Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) raised some eyebrows on Monday when the Associated Press reported that he said Obamacare repeal wasn’t going to happen and opposition to the law was purely political. It was practically heresy for a Republican — which probably explains why Kasich was quickly walking the comments back just a few hours after the report.
He started by saying the AP had misquoted him, but then his defense became truly puzzling. Kasich said he was talking about Medicaid expansion, which his state has implemented at his urging, not Obamacare — and he doesn’t see the two as related.
“I have favored expanding Medicaid, but I don’t really see expanding Medicaid as really connected to Obamacare,” Kasich told Politico.
The Affordable Care Act, of course, created Medicaid expansion and allocates the generous funding — a 100 percent federal match through 2016 and never less than 90 percent after that — that allows states to add more low-income people to the program. Early estimates suggest that more than 10 million people have signed up for Medicaid in the expansion’s first year.
Up to 400,000 Ohioans are eligible for the program under Obamacare, which helps explain why Kasich worked to go around his Republican legislature to get it implemented.
In his comments to the AP published on Monday, Kasich said that “the opposition to it was really either political or ideological … I don’t think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people’s lives.”
But those improvements are apparently limited to Medicaid expansion, not the rest of the law, according to Kasich’s statement to Politico. He reiterated he supports repealing and replacing Obamacare, but then added that there must be “an accommodation” to allow Medicaid expansion to continue.
Maintaining Medicaid expansion has not been a feature of the various GOP health care plans that have popped up in the last few years. The Senate GOP and House Republican Study Committee proposals would have undone it.
Kasich also took to Twitter to reaffirm his Obamacare repeal bonafides.
The AP got it wrong. Ohio said NO to the Obamacare exchange for a reason. As always, my position is that we need to repeal and replace.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) October 20, 2014
Spent my night talking to the NYT, WSJ & Politico. Why? Because the AP screwed up. Let me make my position simple. Repeal Obamacare.
— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) October 21, 2014