Governor John Kasich forcefully repeated multiple falsehoods about expanding Medicaid eligibility in Ohio during his 2013 State of the State address on February 19. As he and his administration have done for weeks, Kasich falsely insisted that Ohio's promised federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) funding for expanding Medicaid will be sent to other states if Ohio rejects the expansion.
The Ohio Channel has the governor's entire speech; watch the segment in question to see Kasich pressure legislators by inaccurately asserting their rejection of Medicaid expansion would not prevent any of PPACA's new spending.
"We should not shoot ourselves in the foot and send our tax dollars to another state to be spent," Kasich told a special joint session of the Ohio General Assembly.
Federal Medicaid expansion funding for other states is in no way contingent on federal Medicaid expansion funding for Ohio. The Ohio legislature's refusal to expand Medicaid eligibility would have no impact on federal Medicaid expansion funding for other states, just as the Ohio legislature's embrace of the PPACA Medicaid expansion would have no impact on other states' federal funding.
Ultimately, the Ohio General Assembly can prevent billions in new federal spending by rejecting the Medicaid eligibility expansion Governor Kasich supports.
The governor continued, warning, "if we don't do what we should do on Medicaid, they'll be spending it in California. You count on it."
This is not true. California, which has already elected to expand Medicaid eligibility, will receive the same amount of PPACA Medicaid expansion funding regardless of what Ohio does.
By continuing a false narrative he and his staff have employed since his Medicaid decision was announced on February 4, Governor Kasich clearly seeks to convince legislators PPACA Medicaid expansion funding is a defined pot of money whose contents will go to the states that dig in by complying with President Obama's 2010 health law.
In reality, PPACA Medicaid expansion funding is an open-ended promise by the federal government, with each state that expands Medicaid increasing the total amount of new federal spending.
"We have an unprecedented opportunity to bring $13 billion of Ohio's tax dollars back to Ohio to solve our problem," Governor Kasich insisted.
The Kasich administration has estimated that Ohio would gain $13 billion in federal funding through PPACA by expanding Medicaid eligibility. This federal funding would come from a combination of debt and taxes from all 50 states - certainly not "$13 billion of Ohio's tax dollars."
After falsely claiming Ohio's federal funding will go to other states if Ohio rejects Medicaid expansion and falsely claiming all the federal Medicaid expansion funding Ohio could gain would be "our money coming home to fix our problems," Governor Kasich used rhetoric favored by socialized medicine lobbying group the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio to guilt legislators into supporting Medicaid expansion.
"I think it makes sense to bring this money home, and this money can provide health coverage for the poor," the governor said.
Interestingly, Kasich also attempted to justify adding to the $16.5 trillion national debt with new Medicaid spending by suggesting Ohio should "be ready to navigate" whatever hypothetical changes the federal government eventually pursues to keep Medicaid solvent.
Kasich was elected governor in 2010 largely on the strength of his work balancing the federal budget as a congressman in the 1990s, and has prided himself on being both a problem-solver and an opponent of deficit spending.
Asked why he refused to implement a state-run PPACA exchange, Kasich said he would not "spend Ohioans' money on something I can't determine." But as a reporter for the liberal Washington Post's Wonkblog wrote on February 6, "He supports the Medicaid expansion, a decision that could expand Obamacare to cover as many as 684,000 Ohioans, according to an Urban Institute analysis (Kasich’s office puts the estimate at 275,000)."
Whatever estimate is most accurate, one thing is certain: expanding Medicaid eligibility would mean vast growth in one of the largest entitlement programs of a government that has run deficits of at least $1 trillion each year since President Obama took office.
In the short term, healthcare providers want Medicaid expansion because of PPACA provisions written to push more Americans into Medicaid. However, the fiscal burden and unintended consequences of Medicaid expansion and other aspects of PPACA will not be entirely obvious until after Kasich's 2014 reelection campaign.
A transcript of the portion of the governor's address in question follows.
Governor John Kasich: And when they finally - the federal government finally figures out how to begin to solve the problems of Medicare and Medicaid, we will be ready to navigate those changes. But in the meantime, while we're waiting for answers, we should not shoot ourselves in the foot and send our tax dollars to another state to be spent. It is not fair to the taxpayers of the state of Ohio, plain and simple. Because if we don't do what we should do on Medicaid, they'll be spending it in California. You count on it.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to bring $13 billion of Ohio's tax dollars back to Ohio to solve our problem! Our money coming home to fix our problems! It's a unique opportunity. We've never gotten our fair share.
Well, I think it makes sense to bring this money home, and this money can provide health coverage for the poor - a great number of them who are working poor, individuals who make less than $15,415. $15,415 - they can't afford healthcare! What are we gonna do, leave 'em out in the street? Walk away from them, when we have a chance to help them?
This story originally appeared at Media Trackers Ohio.