Apr 26

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Ohio Republicans—Just send the bill for Medicaid Expansion to our children


Child debt to pay for Medicaid Expansion 484 x 252In the Ohio house, of the 99 total representatives, 65 are now Republicans. It is clear, that the Republican Party totally controls the legislative agenda in the Ohio house. What happens happens because this is what the Republican caucus has decided to do.


The Ohio house recently passed the proposed two-year state budget with 60 of the 65 Republicans supporting the bill. Included in this budget is the re-authorization of Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion. Medicaid Expansion provides free healthcare to single, work-able adults when they have a reported income below a specified income threshold. Approximately 500,000 new Medicaid recipients have been added as part of this expansion. The annual cost of this is in the range of $2-$3 billion—each and every year.


Gov. John Kasich has been a strong proponent of Medicaid Expansion. In the last state budget in 2013, the Ohio House and Senate rejected Kasich’s proposal to start the Obamacare Medicaid Expansion in Ohio. However, they did a poor job of writing the specific language of the bill. Gov. Kasich was able to thwart their objection by line-item vetoing the prevision blocking Medicaid Expansion and then gaining approval through the little-known Controlling Board using the backing of Kasich-leaning Republican legislators. It was an unethical move by the governor not too long after Obamacare was rejected by 66% of Ohio voters. His true progressive political leanings where starting to become apparent to all.


What is important to understand is that the cost of this Medicaid Expansion—paying for the healthcare of single, work-able adults—comes from new federal debt. Gov. Kasich calls this “free money”. Would you be truthful in calling this “free money”?  In fact, this is a new debt burden being placed on the backs of our children and grandchildren.


By voting to reauthorize Medicaid Expansion, the sixty Republicans in Ohio house were voting to put new debt on our children’s back because they did not have the political guts to raise revenues here in Ohio to pay for Medicaid Expansion costs. The money was not just sitting in DC waiting to be spent. It would not just go elsewhere. This is progressive politics being undertaken by the Republicans, many of whom describe themselves as being “conservative”.


There are between 2 and 3 million children in Ohio. Thus, about $1000 in new federal debt is being added to each child’s existing federal debt burden every year because of the vote to reauthorize Medicaid Expansion. Is it moral/Christian to force debt on children to pay for single, work-able adults? If this cost is a public policy imperative, as Kasich and many legislators claim, then why wasn’t state revenues raised to pay the cost? A haunting question to ask your state representative who voted in favor of the state budget.


What follows is a letter to the public written by a first-term “conservative” Ohio Republican representative defending his vote in support of the state budget bill and reauthorizing Medicaid Expansion. Read it very carefully. This is a pure politician defending his actions—essentially saying to grassroots Republican voters we just don’t get it. He had no choice. There was not a “snowball’s chance in heck of winning” in stopping Medicaid Expansion. Yet, five brave conservative Republicans voted against the state budget. In fact, he had a clear choice and it is obvious what was most important to him—his political career.


It is especially important to note that nowhere in his response did he acknowledge that he was voting to put new federal debt burden on our children—new debt that was only created as a result of his vote to reauthorize Medicaid Expansion. If Medicaid expansion was so darn important to Gov. Kasich, why didn’t he propose raising taxes to pay for it? Because Kasich wants to run to be the president of the United States of America, of course! He is a progressive politician giving away free stuff to buy votes to advance his political career and giving our children the bill. Sixty Republicans in the Ohio house supported this. Did yours?


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“Given your druthers would you prefer to pay more for health insurance in the State of Ohio or not pay more?”


“Medicaid expansion, whether it be through Barack Obama or Governor John Kasich, will have the immediate effect of stabilizing our Health Insurance rates, instead of letting them rise. Since it is part of the Ohio Budget, if we do not raise taxes at the state level, then in the short term, medicaid expansion in Ohio is a net benefit to the economy and to Ohio citizens. High health insurance cost are a job killer.


“I know it is popular among the teaparty to equate what Governor John Kasich is doing as expanding Obamacare. This is not true. John Kasich is expanding Medicaid on his own terms as a mechanism to help keep health insurance costs low and to keep clinics and hospitals open. This is the reason why hospitals within Ohio that opposed Obamacare embrace Governor Kasich’s Medicaid expansion. Not expanding Medicaid means more hospitals not getting paid for services, more abortions, and more veterans that are not helped by the VA system have someplace else to go for treatment.


“It is a simple law of economics, in our society if the poor do not pay, we either pay through higher insurance rates, or the government will bear this burden. While Medicaid is a re-distribution of wealth and everything I stand opposed to, the political reality is that Steve Kraus, as a state representative, cannot repeal Medicaid…..(A program that Ronald Reagan expanded when faced with a very similar circumstance).


“As a state representative, I realize there are two legislative worlds: Theory and Reality. In the political theory world we fight everything that is bad and as it comes to us. In the political reality world we do not have the unlimited resources to fight every battle. We need to pick and choose our fights and use strategy to accomplish what we want.


“The teaparty is full of fighters that view government through the lens of political theory. As a new Ohio assemblyman, I have not had enough time to form strategic alliances to push back against the governor and have a snowball’s chance in heck of winning – even if the governor was wrong on this point, which he isn’t. I also have a court case swirling around me that makes it hard for many legislators to warmup to me. A no vote on Medicaid expansion would be suicide for me and would only ensure that I would not get help to pass other legislation I support like the Heartbeat bill.


“Governor John Kasich and I are making a long-term bet that Obamacare will be repealed in the first 100 days of a new Republican administration in the Whitehouse. When that repeal is made insurance levels should go back down within time and Medicaid expansion in Ohio should be repealed. This is the sensible and practical thing to do in the long run.


“Rest assured that I am still on the side of conservatism and very much embrace commonsense values, which are tea party values.


“I believe the teaparty should think strategically……. and rather than burn bridges with me the teaparty should work with me on:


1. The Ohio Heartbeat Bill, designed to reduce abortions

2. Serialized voting that will help improve the accuracy of election and help eliminate voter fraud thus allow the teaparty great tools to become a watchdog

3. Help pass energy legislation that opens up Ohio’s energy grid to the free market

4. Removing John Stainbrook as the worst Republican Chairman in the State of Ohio


“I plead for teaparty groups to adopt strategies rather that trying to fight every fight. Lets plan and think strategically.


“Regardless, I’m not the person to wage war against the governor even if it made sense to do so. You need a teaparty caucus that has some senior legislators that can deliver the votes needed for an upset. Ron Young and Kristina Roegner would be good choices.


“Let’s work smarter, not harder!”

Steven W. Kraus
Erie/Ottawa Counties

“like me” on https://www.facebook.com/KrausReportingForDuty

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