Ohio Governor John Kasich has once again stood against fellow Republicans in the Ohio Legislature to support a Medicaid expansion that now provides health insurance to 700 thousand low-income Ohioans.
The 2016 presidential contender vetoed a proposed freeze in the two-year state budget bill before signing it late Friday night. Conservatives had called on the outspoken Kasich to set a national example by leaving in place provisions calling for freezing new enrollment under Medicaid expansion starting July 1, 2018, and preventing those who drop off from re-enrolling. Kasich is one of the Republican Party's staunchest defenders of the expansion. It was made possible under the Affordable Care Act that is reviled, and now targeted, by his party. The Republican-led Legislature will attempt an override of his veto Thursday. Legislators face potential pushback from their constituents in the politically divided battleground state for not acting to curb government health care spending. Ohio's expansion population is larger than originally expected, costing almost 5 billion dollars — though most of that is picked up by the federal government. Many of those on the program are the working poor, mentally ill or drug addicted. The Kasich administration has estimated that 500 thousand Ohioans could lose coverage under a freeze within the first 18 months. Anticipating his veto, Republican budget writers made sure not to count on savings from the freeze to balance the budget, as the state constitution requires.