White House Praises Kasich As Medicaid Expansion Passes In Ohio

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Gov. John Kasich is receiving praise from unlikely places, including the White House, after a state board voted to expand Medicaid.

"I would point you to Ohio and the significant decision that happened there," said White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday.  "We're obviously pleased with the developments in Ohio and in states across the country where the decision to expand Medicaid has been made, because we're talking about a significant number of uninsured Americans who will now have insurance."

The Democratic mayor of Cleveland Frank Jackson also offered praise for the Republican governor.

"I commend Governor Kasich for advocating for the expansion of Medicaid," said Jackson.  "The people who are eligible for Medicaid through this expansion can now take charge of their health and improve their quality of life."

The left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio said Medicaid expansion is a victory for the entire state.

"We congratulate Gov. John Kasich and his staff, the members of the Controlling Board, and the advocacy community that has worked tirelessly for this victory," said the group in a press release.

It wasn't just the political left commending Kasich, but the Republican-leaning Chamber of Commerce did so too.

"The Ohio Chamber supports Medicaid expansion as being in the best interests of Ohio's employers," said Keith Lake, Vice President of Government Affairs.  "We commend Governor Kasich for his persistence in pushing for expansion and the Controlling Board for its action to approve the appropriation."

Healthcare groups across the state were quick to commend Kasich and the Controlling Board.

"We praise Governor Kasich's commitment to expanding healthcare access to 275,000 insured Ohio's through Medicaid," said Sandy Oxley, CEO at Voices for Ohio's Children.  "He, his administration, and leadership at the Ohio Department of Medicaid have stood shoulder to shoulder with advocates to educate and inform Ohioans of the benefits of Medicaid expansion to the state."

Kasich’s likely Democratic opponent for governor offered a political response to the passage with an eye on the election.

“It shouldn’t be overlooked, however, that Governor Kasich’s decision to bypass the legislature is a temporary end run certain to invite legal challenges,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald.  “This is an instance where an appropriate outcome is being ill-served by Governor Kasich’s deeply flawed process, and Ohio’s working families deserve better on such an important matter.”

Before Medicaid expansion in Ohio passed, we met Greta Walton who works a minimum wage job, but is unable to afford the medicine for her high blood pressure.

"I never miss work. I go to work sick. I go to work hungry. So it's not fair," said Greta.

Greta will now be among the 275,000 lower income Ohioans who will qualify for Medicaid.

The state will spend $561 million in federal funds this year and $2 billion dollars next year on Medicaid expansion.

Those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible.

Those who qualify can start enrolling this month for coverage that takes effect in January.

Republican Gov. John Kasich put the Medicaid expansion plan into his budget back in February.

At the time, Kasich told 10TV he would find a way to get the expansion through the GOP-controlled legislature, which did not support it.

"There's $13 billion Ohio tax dollars we can bring back to make sure we can cover the working poor," said Kasich. "And if we don't do it, the federal government will cut off reimbursement to those hospitals who are treating people who can't pay. You know what that means? - Chaos in our rural hospitals.  We can't have that.  We can't have a meltdown of our system."

The tea party in Ohio was not pleased with Kasich or the Controlling Board.

"This bastardization of the political process by Gov. John Kasich, and his allies, has gone far enough and must be stopped," said Tom Zawistowski, President of the Ohio Citizens PAC - a tea party organization.  "It is an unconscionable political act by a desperate Governor who simply cannot make a logical case for his destructive plan to expand Medicaid."