‘Administration…badly bungled this transition to the incoming Republican administration of Gov. Mike DeWine…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) After years of moral preening and self-praise for expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich made massive cuts to the program on his way out of office.
Now, newly elected Gov. Mike DeWine, who is also a Republican, is forced to pick up the pieces.
Perhaps no other Republican has more vocally embraced President Barack Obama’s signature domestic legislation than Kasich.
He even defied Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature to implement the controversial health law in his home state.
Kasich, who is now a contributor at CNN, also made Medicaid expansion a key pillar of his failed 2016 presidential bid, and continued to boast of his compassion for the poor and elderly during the 2018 gubernatorial election to replace him.
“This is about putting ourselves in somebody else’s shoes,” Kasich said while touting Obamacare as his legacy achievement. “Think about what your life would be like if you didn’t know if you could get any health care.”
But as the Columbus Dispatch explained on Monday, “that horse went lame” when it became clear last week that in the closing days of the Kasich administration, the two-term governor blind-sided the state’s 88 county Medicaid programs with millions of dollars in funding cuts — all far beyond any previous expectations.
“For the outgoing Republican Kasich administration to have so badly bungled this transition to the incoming Republican administration of Gov. Mike DeWine suggests it wasn’t just a fumble but maybe something more deliberate. And we’ll tack on ‘cowardly’ for good measure,” the paper’s editorial board wrote.
Among the chief complaints of Obamacare’s detractors, is that it was transparently too expensive.
Regarding Medicaid expansion, the Obama administration promised to fund 100 percent of newly eligible participants for three years.
Then, states would be required to pick up 10 percent of the tab.
But as many Republican governors in other states predicted, the deal was too good to be true.
Far more people signed up for the socialized health insurance program than the Obama administration said, and health care costs grew much faster than state revenues and inflation.
As expected, the result has left both taxpayers and the Medicaid program in the lurch.
Under Kasich, Ohio’s Medicaid rolls exploded by 50 percent with the stroke of his pen.
“The federal government recognized it was a heavy lift when Ohio expanded eligibility for Medicaid in January 2014 to go from about 2 million to nearly 3 million covered lives almost overnight,” the Dispatch said.
To save money, Kasich and the Obama administration cut a deal.
The federal government allowed Ohio to pay only 75 percent of the costs for county workers to administer the Medicaid program.
As a stipulation, government workers processing food stamps and cash assistance would not receive federal support.
But 10 days before his second term ended in mid-January, Kasich’s Medicaid team announced it was cutting state funding for county Medicaid administration to 50 percent.
Initially, the state said it would only cost $2 million statewide.
Then, the figure was revised to $2 million per quarter, statewide.
Turns out, Ohio’s 88 counties are each expecting to lose twice that much in 2019.
That not only threatens Medicaid services to the poor, but also the jobs of local government workers who help deliver those benefits.
Gov. DeWine has said he will work to resolve the problem in the short-term.
But like so much of Kasich’s eight-year Ohio tenure, his Medicaid legacy ends in hypocrisy.