Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Sunday criticized the House Republicans’ plan to phase out ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid.
“I'm in Munich, but I understand that there was an initial effort by House Republicans to, for example, phase out Medicaid expansion, which means phasing out coverage,” Kasich said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “That is a very, very bad idea, because we cannot turn our back on the most vulnerable. We can give them the coverage, reform the program, save some money and make sure that we live in a country where people are going to say, ‘At least somebody is looking out for me.’”
An outline of an ObamaCare replacement plan put forward by House Republicans on Thursday called for phasing out the Medicaid expansion by lowering the federal share of the cost back down to its traditional level, meaning that states would have to pour more of their own money into the program if they wanted to keep the expansion, a tall order.
Kasich’s comments illustrate how thorny the issue of Medicaid expansion is for congressional Republicans as they look to repeal ObamaCare. Conservatives are pushing to scrap the expansion, along with the rest of the law, but Republican governors from states that accepted the expansion, like Kasich, are wary of their constituents losing coverage and their states losing the extra federal funding.
Other Republican governors from states that expanded the program, such as Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, have previously defended Medicaid expansion.
ObamaCare expanded eligibility for the program up to 138 percent of the poverty line in the 31 states that accepted the expansion. Medicaid expansion has covered about 11 million new people.
How to handle Medicaid expansion is of particular focus in the Senate, where many Republican senators represent states that expanded the program. Those senators have been discussing how to handle the issue under repeal.
Republican lawmakers say they will consult with governors when they come to Washington for a conference next weekend.