In Search for Obamacare Replacement, Small Group of GOP Governors Called Upon to Help

by | February 24, 2017

By Randy Ludlow

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is among a small group of governors being called upon by congressional Republicans to help craft a solution to the Medicaid expansion conundrum amid the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.

Kasich accepted the Medicaid expansion component of the Affordable Care Act, eventually extending health-care coverage to 700,000 low-income Ohioans, and has lobbied to keep the coverage as President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress seek a substitute for Obamacare.

A source familiar with the arrangement confirmed to The Dispatch that Kasich, a second-term Republican, was asked to join other governors in crafting a potential Medicaid replacement plan that might be agreeable to Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress.

The story first was reported by CNN, which said other governors include Brian Sandoval of Nevada, who also accepted the Medicaid expansion, and Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bill Haslam of Tennessee, whose states were among the 19 not to expand Medicaid coverage.

Kasich arrived in Washington D.C. today following a trip to Germany and the United Kingdom and is expected to meet with the other governors, the source said. Kasich worked the phones while overseas, talking to other governors and their staffs on crafting a health-care replacement plan.

The governor is scheduled to meet with Trump on Friday. Kasich was the last GOP candidate standing as Trump won the party's presidential nomination and has been critical of the new president on several issues. Medicaid likely will be among the topics Kasich discusses with Trump.

"Health care reform has always been a priority for Gov. Kasich and we've made a lot of progress to improve our system here in Ohio. As a result, people tend to ask him for his views on this topic," said Connie Luck, spokeswoman for Kasich's Office of Health Transformation.

"We want to preserve the progress we've made in our state and Gov. Kasich continues to work with leaders across the country to advocate for a responsible path forward on health care reform," Luck said.

Kasich's congressional predecessor, Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Genoa Township, holds a senior committee position that gives him influence in what will constitute the Republicans' Obamacare replacement plan. However, Tiberi supports a congressional GOP plan that would phase out the Medicaid expansion.

(c)2017 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)