WASHINGTON — Gov. John Kasich charged that House Republicans approved a health-care bill last week which offers “inadequate” tax credits for people buying private insurance and lacks enough money to create a separate pool for people with pre-existing conditions to buy plans they can afford.
During an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Kasich stepped up his attacks on the House bill saying the amount of money for the high-risk pools is “ridiculous,” and warned that low-income people who were covered by an expansion of Medicaid eligibility are “going to be living in the emergency rooms again.”
Peppering his remarks with scathing comments about House lawmakers from his own political party, Kasich said the “fundamental issue here” is the lack of federal financial resources, saying there is “about half the resources in this bill that were in” the 2010 health law known as Obamacare.
Kasich complained that House Republicans “were trying to fulfill a campaign promise” they made to scrap Obamacare and replace it with a more market-oriented plan.
“That doesn’t mean the system doesn’t need to be reformed,” Kasich said. “It can be. But this was — this was not great. And it is going to go to the Senate. And I hope and pray they are going to write a much bigger bill.”
Kasich has emerged as one of the leading critics of the House GOP bill in part because he relied on hundreds of millions of federal Medicaid dollars made available by Obamacare to extend coverage to 700,000 low-income people in Ohio.
But he also on CNN took aim at the refundable tax credits to replace the Obamacare subsidies which allowed middle-income people who were not covered by their employers to buy private plans in federal or state marketplaces known as exchanges.
Kasich is navigating a tricky political path as he keeps open the possibility that he may run for president in 2020. While he wants the Senate to spend more money on health care, one of the major planks in his super political action committee is for the federal government to balance its budget.
Kasich said under the House bill, Medicaid expansion is replaced in 2020 by a formula based on the number of people covered in 2016. But he pointed out because many people move off Medicaid as they find steady work, they will not be allowed to return to Medicaid if their work situation changes.
So what happens to those people?” Kasich asked. “Well, they’re going to go over on the exchange. Now here’s the problem with the exchange. They give you … a tax credit of $3,000 or $4,000 to buy health insurance. Now what do you think you can buy for $3,000 or $4,000? Do you know what the deductible would be in that?”
“For people who have these challenges — whether it’s drug addiction, mental illness or chronic disease — they’ve got to see the doctor on a regular basis,” Kasich said. “So how do we think that the mentally ill have the ability to pay the deductible on an insurance policy that they can buy for $3,000,” calling it “inadequate.”
He dismissed suggestions that the billions of dollars included in the bill would allow states to cover many of those people with pre-existing conditions by setting up a separate pool for high-risk Americans.
“There would be no reason to move to a high-risk pool because a high-risk pool is not funded,” Kasich said.