LIMA — A small group of Democrats — seven in total — stood in the rain outside of Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center Tuesday afternoon to demand that gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine make his stance known on whether he will keep Ohio’s Medicaid expansion on the books.
“We feel very strongly about this issue,” David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said. “The healthcare of so many Ohioans are at stake in this governor’s race. John Kasich, to his credit, has supported and put into place Medicaid expansion, which covers 700,000 Ohioans and their healthcare. It’s also one of the key revenue streams for hospitals like the one behind us. We’re committed to continuing that.”
DeWine’s Republican primary contender, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, has already said that she disagrees with Ohio’s Medicaid expansion put into place by current Gov. John Kasich, and she has said that she would get rid of the program if elected.
Carla Thompson, Lima’s 3rd Ward councilor, also took time Tuesday to make her opinions known on the issue during the small rally.
“I think one of the things we need to do here in our area is demand accountability from the people who are in office and the people who are running for office,” she said.
“We want to make sure that as he campaigns around the state with a month left in the primary, that he stops ducking and actually comes clean with this really important issue,” Pepper said. “Candidates like Mike DeWine owe the media and the voters the answer to ‘Will you support Medicaid expansion or not?’”
DeWine’s position has been lacking detail, but he has made it known that he does not support ObamaCare. Throughout the campaign, he has said he would like Congress to allow states to create their own customized Medicaid programs, which would be paid for by block grants and waivers. He has not been explicit on whether he would cancel Ohio’s Medicaid expansion.
Almost one in five adults are enrolled in Medicaid in Allen County.
“There are Republicans who would say if you’re not supporting Medicaid expansion, you’re not serious about dealing with the opioid crisis,” Pepper said.
“The party had contacted me and wanted to know if I was concerned about the issue, and I definitely was. My main concern was the focus on getting those people who need mental healthcare, make sure they stayed covered. I don’t see how you combat things like the drug crisis without helping people before they ever get there,” Thompson said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.