CLEVELAND, Ohio – Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor said Monday she would end the Medicaid expansion in Ohio if she is elected governor – a clean break from the man she has served alongside for the last seven years, Gov. John Kasich.
As part of her run to succeed Kasich, Taylor unveiled her plan to alter the health care system in Ohio on Monday in Cleveland. She said she would end the Medicaid expansion that resulted in 725,000 more Ohioans receiving health coverage, calling the program unsustainable in the long term.
“Medicaid expansion is fiscally unsustainable and will be ended under a Taylor administration,” Taylor said. “I believe that we must identify new, innovative, market-based reforms to address the issues Medicaid currently addresses today. I want to return Medicaid to its original mission of serving the people who need it while incentivizing work and ensuring opportunities for long-term success for those who are able.”
Traditionally, Medicaid covers children, the poor and disabled people who don’t qualify for other programs. Under the Affordable Care Act, states could choose to receive federal funds to expand Medicaid enrollment to anyone at or below 138 percent of the poverty line.
Kasich was one of the governors who opted for the federal funds and since then has been a vocal advocate of the program, often noting how it has helped mentally ill and drug addicted people who would have been left behind.
Taylor’s plan puts her at odds with Kasich, who aggressively fought fellow Republicans’ attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act – more commonly known as Obamacare. Kasich, who is term-limited, has endorsed Taylor in the four-way Republican primary for his seat.
Asked to comment on Taylor’s proposal, a spokesman for the governor took issue with the idea of eliminating the Medicaid expansion.
“Helping more people get healthy, get clean and get jobs is really a no-brainer for Ohioans in need, employers and taxpayers–and the overwhelming majority of health care business leaders continue to appreciate that,” said Jon Keeling, a spokesman for Kasich.
Legislative Republicans tried to scale back Medicaid this year by instituting a freeze on enrollment. Kasich vetoed the bill, and Republicans have discussed possibly overriding it.
Taylor said she would consider a full elimination of the expansion as opposed to a phased-out elimination.
“So I would anticipate as we roll out our first budget in 2019,” she said. “At that point I would imagine we would probably build it into the budget.”
In lieu of Medicaid, Taylor said she would institute what is called direct primary care. It’s like a membership for basic health care services that cuts out the middle man.
Patients would pay a monthly fee directly to doctors to cover routine health care needs like primary care and preventive services. Insurance could be purchased on top to cover emergency services and specialists.
Flexibility for state spending, relief for small businesses and creating health care accounts for part-time workers that employers could contribute to are also main planks in Taylor’s health care proposal.
But much of Taylor’s plan relies on action by Congress – including the repeal of Obamacare. That doesn’t seem likely in the short term after Republicans failed in July to reach 50 votes in the Senate.
“If Obamacare is not repealed, then I will work very hard with President Trump and Congress to get Obamacare repealed or get the flexibility Ohio needs in a waiver or block grant – call it whatever you want – give us the flexibility to I can implement my plan,” Taylor said.
Taylor faces Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci in the Republican primary for governor next year. So far, she is the only candidate to release a detailed health care plan, though Renacci has said he wants to end the Medicaid expansion.
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