Kasich fights for federal health care funds

Gov. John Kasich met Saturday at the White House with senior Trump administration officials to urge them to continue funneling hundreds of millions of federal dollars to the states to finance health care for millions of low-income people who have received coverage under the 2010 health law.

With congressional Republicans hoping to scrap the health law, known as Obamacare, and replacing it with a substitute, Kasich has mounted an effort to retain a key feature which expanded eligibility for Medicaid coverage, the joint federal and state program which provides health coverage to low-income people.

Kasich was one of the few Republican governors to accept the additional federal Medicaid dollars available through Obamacare, allowing 700,000 previously uninsured low-income people in Ohio to receive health coverage.

Following the meeting with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Kasich said in a video posted on his Facebook page that he was “expressing my concerns and some of the ideas I think (that) can allow us to reform the health care system, save some money, but yet make certain that people who need coverage that they’re going to be able to receive the coverage that they need.”

“All in all a lot of work, but it’s worth it if we can have this come out in the right place,” Kasich said in the video posted by his staff. “I cannot predict the future. But we are certainly doing everything we can do.”

Kasich also joined the nation’s Republican governors at a second meeting in Washington to press for support to retain the Medicaid expansion. Kasich is one of a handful of GOP governors trying to propose a compromise to House Republicans to at least provide Medicaid coverage to families at the federal poverty line, which is $24,600 for a family of four.

A Kasich adviser would not elaborate on the meetings other than to say they were “productive.” But there was no sign today the Republican governors are ready to forge a consensus on Medicaid.

The Hill, a publication which circulates on Capitol Hill, quoted Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada as saying staffers from his office as well as Kasich’s will continue to meet today on whether a consensus can be reached among GOP governors.

The 2010 health law extended coverage to more than 20 million Americans previously without insurance in two ways.

Middle income people who worked for companies which did not insure their employees were eligible for federal financial assistance to buy individual health plans through state and federal marketplaces, known as exchanges.

In addition, the law expanded Medicaid to allow families of four earning as much as $33,948 annually — which is 138 percent of the federal poverty level — to be eligible for health coverage. Ohio and 31 other states accepted additional federal dollars to provide for the Medicaid coverage, while 19 states did not.

But a fissure has opened between congressional Republicans and Kasich on Medicaid as well as the 2010 health law.

In a proposed bill outlined by House Republicans, GOP lawmakers want to scale back federal spending for Medicaid and eliminate federal financial assistance used by middle income people to buy private plans.

Instead, House Republicans would replace the subsidies with tax credits to allow people to buy their own plans.

In an opinion piece Friday in Forbes Magazine, Kasich suggested scaling back Medicaid coverage to families at the federal poverty line and provide federal subsidies to families of four earning between $25,000 a year to $34,000 a year so they could buy their own private plans on the federal exchanges.

Under Kasich’s plan, as many as 150,000 people in Ohio would lose their Medicaid coverage. It was unclear whether federal subsidies would allow families earning between $25,000 a year and $34,000 a year to receive the same kind of coverage that had through Medicaid.

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