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Ohio


Kasich rallies for Medicaid, but Democrats demand more than a pep talk
Governor says he's working through the process with his fellow Republicans for now
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JO INGLES


Reporter
Jo Ingles
 
Dem. Rep. Mike Folley says Gov. Kasich needs to do more to push medicaid expansion.
Courtesy of Ohio House of Representatives
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In The Region:

Hundreds of advocates for low income Ohioans packed into the Statehouse today urging lawmakers to expand Medicaid.  It is the latest in an ongoing fight between Republican legislative leaders who do not want to expand Medicaid and Gov. Kasich, who backs the idea.

Democratic State Rep. Mike Foley says Kasich needs to do more to get majority lawmakers to pass expansion now.

LISTEN: Foley urges Kasich to use political muscle

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“It more than public relations that we need to be engaging in.  He needs to be making individual phone calls to his caucus and members of his party and really putting the hammer and screws to some of those people who are supposedly in the middle so we know as a body politic where these people stand.”

But Kasich says he doesn’t want to strong-arm lawmakers.  He says this is a process of working with Republican lawmakers to help them realize why Medicaid expansion should happen.  

LISTEN: Kasich says he respects the process, but...
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(0:21)

“If I put people in a corner, I am unlikely to get what I want to help people who need help.  If I will be persistent and pleasant and working on this…..Now, all options are on the table.  If the legislature doesn’t do it, then we are going to look at all options that we can possibly do to bring it forward.”

Kasich says it will be a problem if lawmakers wait until the end of the year to put something in place.  Democrats say they want Medicaid expansion to happen by the end of August.  



EXTENDED VERSION:

LISTEN: Extended version on the Medicaid fight
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(3:08)

 




Supporters of Medicaid expansion cheer as Gov. John Kasich takes the stage at a Statehouse rally. Kasichurges the group to talk to their lawmakers about why it’s important to expand the federal program to cover an estimated 275,000 more low income Ohioans. He says lawmakers need to put themselves in the shoes of those people who cannot afford and do not have healthcare.  And Kasich doesn’t mince words.

"I don’t care what it takes. We are going to get this done. Period. Exclamation point. We are going to get it done."Gov. John Kasich urged lawmakers to support Medicaid expansion.

But some Democrats say a rally is not what’s needed right now.

They include Tracy Maxwell Heard, the Democratic leader of the Ohio House.

"There’s no victory here and there’s nothing to rally around the governor for at this point. I think there’s much to say to the governor from the point of the advocates but, 'Hip, hip, hooray' is not it.

She says instead of rallying, Kasich needs to be working with Republican lawmakers to change their minds and bring the issue up for a vote. Democratic Rep. Mike Foley says now is the time for expansion.

Dem. Rep. Tracy Maxwell Heard says Kasich should focus on changing the law, not hosting rallies."Look this is crunch time and it’s more that public relations than we need to be engaging in. He needs to be making individual phone calls to his caucus and members of his party and really putting the hammer and screws to some of those people who are supposedly in the middle so we know as a body politic where these people stand."

Asked about the frustration by Democrats that Medicaid expansion isn’t moving fast enough, Kasich responds:

"It’s politics. I mean it’s boring to me, isn’t it to you?  It’s summer time. We should be having a good time and not worrying about these politics."

Kasich says he's pushed issue to the fore as much as he can, but has to be realistic.

"The legislature has ways to do things and they have told me they have a process in place. I want to respect the process.  Now, let’s just assume I have mechanisms to force a vote here or there. You think that’s going to work?"

"If I put people in a corner, I am unlikely to get what I want to help people who need help.  Now, if I will be persistent and pleasant and working on this ...
"(But) all options are on the table. If the Legislature doesn’t do it, then we are going to look at all options that we can possibly do to bring it forward so we are not going to quit on this."

Kasich says it will be a problem if lawmakers wait until the end of the year to put something in place. Democrats say they want Medicaid expansion to happen by the end of August. 

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