In a sign of the deep divisions among Republicans, Gov. John Kasich sharply objected Tuesday to a House Republican plan to overhaul the 2010 health law known as Obamacare which has allowed him to provide health coverage to roughly 700,000 low-income people in Ohio.
While Republican House conservatives such as Rep. Jim Jordan complained the Republican leadership bill is “Obamacare in a different form,” Kasich outlined a more moderate approach, saying the “right way to fix Obamacare is by Republicans and Democrats working together.”
In a statement, Kasich said he has consistently called on Congress to scrap the 2010 health law and replace it with “more conservative, market-driven reforms that actually control health care costs.”
But he warned that “phasing out Medicaid coverage – the joint federal and state program which provides coverage to low-income people – would be “counter-productive.”
Kasich said scaling back Medicaid “unnecessarily puts at risk our ability to treat the drug-addicted, mentally ill and working poor who now have access to a stable source of care.”
The Kasich administration projects the extra cost of picking up the larger tab for the Medicaid expansion population alone at $1.5 billion a year.
The 2010 health law expanded Medicaid coverage to families of four earning as much as $34,000 a year, which is above the federal poverty line. The extra federal dollars made available under the law allowed Kasich to provide coverage to 700,000 adults, bringing the state’s total Medicaid population to three million.
But the House GOP leadership measure would repeal Medicaid expansion after 2020 and switch from paying a set percentage of program costs to capping federal funding per beneficiary, based on how much each state was spending in 2016.
“It will destroy expansion and undermine the entire Medicaid program over time, hurting people who have very limited means,” said Steve Wagner, executive director of the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio.
But even as House Republican leaders hope to push their bill through the House, they faced a rebellion from GOP conservatives led by Jordan, R-Urbana, and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
At a news conference on Capitol Hill, Jordan denounced the House GOP leadership bill, saying he plans to introduce Wednesday a bill that would scrap the entire 2010 health, pointing out that every House Republican in 2015 voted for that measure.
Referring to a bill approved by Congress in 2015 and vetoed by President Barack Obama, Jordan said Republicans with that vote “got rid of every single tax, got rid of the mandates.
Now the first thing Republicans are bringing forward is a piece of legislation that we’re going to put on a Republican president’s desk that says we will repeal it, but keeps Medicaid expansion and actually expands it, that keeps some of the tax increases. That is not what we promised he American people we would do.”
Instead, Jordan said Congress needs to scrap the old law and have a separate vote later on an alternative “that we think” will reduce the cost of health care premiums.
But other House Republicans such as Columbus-area Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, split with Jordan and defended the leadership bill.
Following a meeting Tuesday at the White House with Trump, Tiberi said the House GOP leadership bill “is patient centered” and “takes power out of this city and sends it back to patients.”
The House Republican leadership bill would dramatically change the way the federal government subsidizes buying of individual health policies by middle income people.
The current law offers tax credits to middle income people which are more generous for people who earn less money. Those tax credits, also called subsidies, allow people to afford the cost of an individual policy sold through federal and state marketplaces, known as exchanges.
By contrast, the House GOP bill would provide tax credits based on the person’s age. For example, a 27-year-old person would receive a $2,000 tax credit per year while a 60-year-old person would receive $4,000 a year.
When a person earns more than $75,000 a year, the tax credit is slowly scaled back.
But the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care research organization in Washington, concluded that younger people would fare much better under the GOP plan than older people.In a statement, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, complained “this plan will raise prices for Ohioans – particularly older Ohioans – and kick people off of the coverage they have today.”
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