Gov. John Kasich has been pitching his budget proposals throughout the state in a bid to win over Republican support. The governor made an impassioned plea for expanding Medicaid coverage in a speech at the City Club of Cleveland.
Kasich’s bid to expand the Medicaid program to cover about 450,000 additional Ohioans is troublesome to many Republicans.
The expansion is part of the federal healthcare reform law that Republicans oppose. Many see it as an eventual cost burden for the state.
Kasich reserved the emotional high point of his remarks for lawmakers on the fence. He said the poor and people with mental illness shouldn’t be ignored.
“This is Ohio. This is a great, industrial, big time, big-sized state. We’re going to make this work. And we’re not going to ignore people who live in the shadows. It is not right,” says Kasich.
In the audience were several lawmakers, including Republican State Representative Marlene Anielski.
She said afterward she’d be open to aid for low-income people and those with mental health problems and addiction, but wasn’t sure about a full expansion.
“Maybe we can still help that segment of the population without taking the Medicaid expansion,” says Anielski.
Kasich’s plan to levy a sales tax on services has also met resistance from fellow Republicans.
On that front, he said lawmakers need to embrace change.