By Jason Hart | Watchdog.org
Obamacare would be working well if more Republicans were like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, President Obama told Vox.com in an interview released Monday.
“The good news is that in dribs and drabs, much as was true with the original Medicaid program, you’re starting to see Republican governors and Republican state legislatures realizing that, ya know, ‘We’re cuttin’ off our nose to spite our face — we got an ideological objection to us helping our own constituencies and our own healthcare systems,'” Obama said.
“To their credit, you got folks like John Kasich in Ohio and (Gov. Rick) Snyder in Michigan and now, most recently, the governor up in Alaska and others who are saying, ‘Ya know what, this is the right thing to do, let’s go ahead and expand it.'”
In Ohio alone, Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion resulted in more than $2 billion in new federal spending last year. The federal government is currently more than $18 trillion in debt.
Kasich, a Republican, routinely accuses Republicans of being ideologues who don’t care about the poor. The governor unilaterally expanded Medicaid under Obamacare in 2013 after failing for six months to pressure the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly to back the policy.
“I don’t pay much attention to narrow ideologues,” Kasich said of Obamacare Medicaid expansion critics during a Jan. 23 NPR interview.
During a Jan. 21 visit to Montana, Kasich told state lawmakers, “turning down your money back to Montana on an ideological basis when people can lose their lives because they get no help doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
“Well, all these entitlements need to be reformed, but in the middle of reforming them you just don’t cut off your nose to spite your face and make some declarative statement and then people can’t get any help,” Kasich said when asked about Medicaid expansion at a Dec. 18 Ohio Chamber of Commerce event.
The biggest problem with Obamacare, according to the president, is that not enough Republicans have followed Kasich’s lead by embracing the law’s Medicaid expansion.
“I mean, the big problem we have right now with Obamacare is that it was designed to make sure that some subset of people were gonna qualify for Medicaid,” Obama told Ezra Klein, Vox editor-in-chief, bemoaning the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 Obamacare ruling.
“Because of the decision of the (Chief Justice John) Roberts court that we couldn’t incentivize states to expand Medicaid the way we had originally intended, you’ve got a love of really big states, you’ve got tens of millions of people who aren’t able to get their Medicaid coverage and so there’s this gap,” Obama said.
Obamacare was written to withhold all federal Medicaid funding from states refusing to expand Medicaid to able-bodied, working-age adults with no dependent children. The Supreme Court ruled Congress could not make traditional Medicaid funding contingent on expansion.
Obama has used Kasich as a rhetorical lifeline for his unpopular 2010 health insurance law for more than a year. During the disastrous rollout of the Obamacare exchange website HealthCare.gov, the president repeatedly pointed to Kasich’s Medicaid expansion as proof Obamacare was working.
The governor, meanwhile, insists Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion has nothing to do with Obamacare. When seeking office in 2010, Kasich complained Obamacare would “require more Medicaid spending and stick states with large and unsustainable costs.”
Kasich now claims each state’s Obamacare expansion money comes entirely from that state’s taxpayers, and has warned support for the Obamacare expansion will be used as an admission test in the afterlife.
State legislators in Tennessee and Wyoming blocked their Republican governors’ attempts to follow Kasich’s lead on the Obamacare expansion last week. Medicaid expansion is still under consideration in Utah, Idaho and elsewhere.