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Editorial: Medicaid debate illustrates GOP image problem


August 23. 2013 11:54AM
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The Lima News



If the Republican Party wants to show it has compassion for the residents of Ohio, it can start by supporting Gov. John Kasich’s plan to expand Medicaid.



Of the many proposals in Kasich’s budget, it is the one that’s going to be the hardest to pass. Ironically, it involves a Republican governor finding the biggest opposition coming from within his own party.



Both Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker William Batchelder dodged the issue Tuesday following the State of the State address in Lima. They said they haven’t made a decision on whether to endorse the governor’s proposal, noting their GOP caucuses will need time to evaluate it. Other Republican lawmakers say there are “aspects to think about,” namely whether the federal government will keep its promise to fund Medicaid in future years.



What this is really about is the disdain Republican lawmakers have for Obamacare and the fact they may let their pride interfere with what the residents of this state are asking them to do. The governor’s plan is supported by small business, hospitals and mental health agencies.



The expansion makes sense from a financial standpoint.



The federal government will pay the entire cost of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years, gradually phasing down to 90 percent, still well above the state’s current level of 64 percent.



This is federal tax money that Ohio residents are already paying, only now it would be returned to state coffers. It also would provide medical coverage for roughly 275,000 Ohio residents beginning in 2014. The state would see $13 billion from the federal government over the next seven years to cover those newly eligible for Medicaid.



It is time for Republicans to show they also are a party with compassion.



The current system is not sustainable, it does not work, and it is costing everybody a lot of money. Kasich sounded almost like a preacher as he drove that point home before nearly 1,700 lawmakers, state officials and other guests in Lima.



He reminded them the expansion would save Ohioans $400 million over two years and bring in billions in federal money to insure the working poor.



“Put it in your family,” Kasich said. “Put somebody that is in your family who becomes the wayward child. And they come home one day, they can’t get a job. Put it on your doorstep, and you’ll understand how hard it is.”



Some Democrats privately are skeptical of Kasich’s push, saying that from an image standpoint, it would endear him to more Ohioans to publicly push for the Medicaid expansion, all the while knowing it has no chance to win approval in the House or Senate.



If that’s the case, Kasich is one shrewd and devious politician. He even brought up the Bible in making his arguments in Lima, saying the good book runs his life “not just on Sunday, but just about every day.”



“I can’t look at the disabled, I can’t look at the poor, I can’t look at the mentally ill, I can’t look at the addicted and think we ought to ignore them,” he added.



That message was also delivered Thursday to Republicans in Toledo.



“Abraham Lincoln did what’s right to lift human beings, and our conservative Republican Party must do the same,” Kasich said at the Lucas County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner.



Somewhere Republicans have forgotten what that means. It’s no wonder they have the image problem they have today.





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