Kasich Refuses To Endorse DeWine For Ohio Governor Over Medicaid Fears

on February 24, 2017 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America

Following Tuesday night’s primary in the Buckeye State, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) is withholding his endorsement of the GOP nominee for his seat, Attorney General Mike DeWine, over fears DeWine will dismantle the state’s Medicaid expansion that Kasich broke with his party to champion and implement.

Kasich’s spokesman, Chris Schrimpf, said this week that the governor “looks forward to meeting with Mike and discussing the concerns,” including the state’s Medicaid expansion “and other efforts to make sure that no Ohioan is left behind.”

Kasich himself conspicuously dodged endorsing DeWine in a press conference on Wednesday, saying flatly about the primary: “It was held and some people won.”

Asked directly about the results of Tuesday’s GOP contest, he emphasized that he feels “very, very strongly about the issue of Medicaid expansion.”

Declining to mention DeWine by name, Kasich noted: “I want to see uniters. I don’t want to see dividers. I want to see a uniter – somebody that can transcend politics to put the people of the state first. So, we’ll see. I’ll be watching.”

The Democratic Governor’s Association pounced on the remarks.

“That’s not exactly a vote of confidence from the governor of your own party,” they noted in an email to reporters. “When it comes to party unity, Mike DeWine and the Ohio Republicans have a tough road ahead.” 

DeWine’s primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R), campaigned on completely dismantling Kasich’s Medicaid expansion, which since 2013 has extended health coverage to more than 700,000 low-income, previously uninsured people in the state.

Though DeWine did not go as far as his opponent, he told TPM in April that he favors implementing a work requirement for the Medicaid expansion and other restrictions

“We would want the ability to really redesign Medicaid, in particular regard to the people covered under the Medicaid expansion,” he said.

His campaign later confirmed that if elected he would “pursue block granting of funds” for Medicaid — something Republicans failed to pass on the national level last year and a policy that would lead to deep cuts to Medicaid over time.

DeWine will face off this November with Democratic nominee Richard Cordray, who told TPM in April that is dedicated to preserving the state’s Medicaid expansion and opposes the implementation of a work requirement.

“It’s a health care program. It’s not a work program,” he said. “First of all, most of those people are disabled or they’re already looking for work. So it’s really a symbolic thing they want to do — a political statement. It’s going to apply to a very small slice [of people], but it’s really going to hurt that slice. What’s it going to do? It’s going to push them out of the health care system, and eventually they’re going to need treatment and they’ll come to the emergency room and we’ll all pay the price for that.”

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