As Ohio Republicans witness the behavior of their governor, they have become increasingly disillusioned with him and with politics in general, for Governor Kasich’s actions with respect to Medicaid expansion are symptoms of the malaise inherent in government today. A sickness precipitated by lack of principle and honor and inflamed by political expediency and self promotion.
It is with this in mind that the OLC must report on Governor Kasich’s latest maneuver in his Captain Ahab like quest for Medicaid expansion in Ohio. Prior to signing the biennial budget into law, Kasich took his veto pen to the bill most notably to the House amendment inserted to provide reform to a Medicaid program much heralded for its fraud, abuse and poor quality health care. The importance of the amendment was that for expansion to proceed, reform had to take place first.
The Ohio House should be commended for inserting the Medicaid reform language into the budget. If the true spirit and letter of the amendment were followed, Ohio would be poised to address a broken entitlement and have the opportunity to turn a failed health care program into one that offered better care for Ohio’s poor. Reforming Medicaid would not only protect millions of Ohioans from languishing in a government entitlement, but would also save future generations from the heavy burden of taxation and the anemic economic growth which always follows.
Unfortunately, not all House and Senate members are on board with Medicaid reform in its purest sense, and since the amendment’s inclusion, reform efforts in the state assembly have disintegrated into a clever means of achieving expansion. But, this article is about the politician who instigated this mess, the prime antagonist, Governor Kasich, not the supporting characters.
By vetoing the Medicaid reform amendment in the budget, Governor Kasich has signaled his true intentions as he advocates for more government run health care. His first and only priority is getting Ohio’s hands on the Obamacare/ Medicaid expansion money. He is not interested in providing quality health care to the poor and he is certainly not concerned with the burden future taxpayers will face as the Medicaid program balloons far beyond his administration’s lowball projections for participation. Kasich has evolved well past his fiscal conservative roots and has fully embraced big government, at least when it comes to Obamacare.
The Obamacare money is available January 1st and states that are late to the trough will miss out on their full share. Governor Kasich has indicated his administration needs six months to prepare for Medicaid expansion. By vetoing the reform amendment, his people are able to begin talks with the federal government now. Ohio Medicaid will have time to get its ducks in a row so that the state of Ohio is ready to accept new Medicaid participants January 1st, as long as a stand alone expansion bill passes the state assembly. The Obamabucks can then start flowing and Kasich can finally sleep easy at night. He will have vanquished the great whale and his victory will become an albatross on the backs of all Ohioans.
But, the tale is not over. There is another ending that should be explored and for which Ohioans need to keep a watchful eye. A rumor abounds that Kasich plans to proceed with Medicaid expansion without legislative approval and with some kind of executive power, perhaps only reserved for super despots.
If Kasich does somehow proceed in this way, he is in effect saying, the heck with 65% of the Republican base in Ohio, the heck with his Republican colleagues in the State House and the State Senate, and the heck with Republicans in Washington who are working to stop Obamacare and who voted to balance the federal budget back in March, the single largest cut being Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion — over $800 billion across all states.
If we have a governor willing to rebuff literally every member of his party at all levels of politics, there is little the people of Ohio can do to stop him. If Kasich does proceed against all opposition and ignoring the checks and balances that are crucial to a well-functioning republic, we will have a governor that has gone “full Obama”, a phrase coined by a dedicated Ohio liberty leader. We will have a governor who is drunk with power and unwilling to respect the fundamental workings of our government.
For now, we the people will continue to play our part in the checks and balances that have been established for us. We will go about our business, growing the economy, paying our taxes and exercising the first amendment so that our voices are heard at the statehouse, at the governor’s office and at the ballot box. We will not go quietly into the night. And, we will pray for some humility to come to our governor.