Kasich to unveil Medicare and Medicaid reforms Thursday

John Kasich
Getty Images

Manchester, N.H. — Ohio Gov. John Kasich will unveil an entitlement reform package on Thursday in Nashua, setting the tone for a tricky conversation about entitlement reform in the GOP presidential primary.

He told voters gathered Monday at the Problem Solvers Convention sponsored by No Labels and The Hill that his package will be focused on Medicare and Medicaid and will employ some of the strategies he used to reform Medicaid in his home state.

“We’re going to give you a plan, a framework, and it will be increasingly filled out as we go along,” he said. “We will deal with Medicaid, Medicare, discretionary defense spending. All of it.”

He said he will lay out proposed reforms to Social Security later in the campaign.

Kasich, a former chairman of the House Budget Committee who as governor took Ohio from an $8 billion deficit to a $2 billion surplus, is widely regarded within his party as a budget guru.

He estimates he has drafted 18 budgets over his career.

“When you think about waht we did for Medicaid in Ohio, there’s a lot of similarities with what we can do for Medicare,” he said. “You can’t get to a balanced budget if you don’t deal with the entitlement reforms. I’ve dealt with them throughout my career.

“It’s not a mystery what I would do,” he said.

In 1998, as budget chairman, Kasich proposed a draft budget that called for $54 billion in mandatory spending cuts over five years, according to an analysis from the time by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

He proposed converting Medicaid to a block-grant program under which Congress would cut federal spending and let the states make decisions on what priorities to fund.

His plan included proposals to cut Medicare payments, according to the CBPP analysis.

He held the House budget gavel from January of 1995 to the end of 2000.

“It’s not going to be like a check-your-box,” he said. “It’s going to be comprehensive. It will show how we can have fiscal discipline, economic growth.

“It will be more than just fiscal and tax,” he added. “We’re excited about it.”

On Social Security, Kasich indicated he would urge adopting a new formula to calculate cost-of-living adjustments for beneficiaries.

“On Social Security, in ’99 I wrote the plan that would’ve kept our seniors held-harmless, would’ve changed the wages and prices to one of the indices, which meant we would have started with a little less of our initial benefit and over time save a bunch of money,” he said, adding that he also proposed private savings accounts for young people.

Kasich said his thinking is not at all influenced by Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanCures bill in jeopardy amid drug pricing push Brent Budowsky: An epic battle for the future of Congress NRCC ad touts GOP rep for bucking Trump MORE’s (R-Wis.) fiscal roadmaps, which became a political football in the 2012 election, when he was GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate.

“I never really read his roadmap. Was it good?” he said.