Ohio tea party groups are serious about opposition to Gov. John Kasich's plan to expand Medicaid.
"Any legislator who votes for Medicaid expansion, we will do our best to make sure they have stiff primary opponents," said Maurice Thompson of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law.
Thompson called Medicaid expansion "socialized medicine" and said conservatives should be opposed.
"My organization will do all of the legal work for free for anybody who wants to primary challenge any of those people," Thompson said.
While offering harsh words for Kasich, Thompson would not say whether the tea party had convinced state Treasurer Josh Mandel to primary challenge him next year.
"We don't know about the governor," Thompson said. "It's clear he's not somebody who believes in less government. He's somebody who believes the government is the answer to all of society's problems."
During his State of the State address Tuesday, Kasich made a passionate plea to his fellow Republican lawmakers over Medicaid expansion.
"We have unprecedented opportunity to bring $13 billion of Ohio's tax dollars back to Ohio to solve our problem," Kasich said. "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. They can't afford health care. What are we going to do, leave them out in the street, walk away from them when we have a chance to help them?"
Thompson echoed a letter Mandel sent to lawmakers earlier this month, urging them not to adopt the Kasich plan.
"Who we represent are just the average taxpayer," Thompson says. "Those people lose on this deal. They don't have a special interest group. They don't have a lobbyist in Columbus. But they are the ones who pay for this."
Kasich's plan has been endorsed by the AARP, several major healthcare organizations, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio AFL-CIO, and the conservative Ohio Right to Life.
"I will not accept the fact that the most vulnerable in our state should be ignored. We can help them, and I want all of you to think about this," Kasich told lawmakers Tuesday.
Florida governor Rick Scott, a Republican, announced Thursday he would also expand Medicaid.
Scott and Kasich represent the two largest swing states in national elections.
"Most Republican governors are not doing this because they know it's not good for the country," Thompson said. "It's not good for the nation to balloon federal spending."
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