Ohio Gov. John Kasich has urged Sen. Rob Portman not to accept “a few billion” to fight the nation’s opioid epidemic in exchange for drastic cuts to Medicaid, saying that the former would be “like spitting in the ocean.”
Kasich, appearing in D.C. Tuesday for a press conference with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said he last spoke to Portman, who may be a key swing vote on the Senate health care vote that could be voted on as early as this week, few weeks back. “He knows what my concerns are,” he said, but cautioned “I don’t cast his vote.”
At least six Republican U.S. senators have expressed concern about the Senate health care bill unveiled last week, with one – Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – expressing concern after the release of a Congressional Budget Office Report last week that found that the Senate bill would cost some 22 million health care over the next decade.
Kasich – who was already scheduled to be in town for a meeting with the board of directors of Siemens - has long expressed concern about House and Senate Republicans’ plans to roll back a Medicaid expansion from the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. Some 700,000 Ohioans – including many of the state’s drug addicted – received coverage under that Medicaid expansion.
Kasich – who also objected to the House bill that passed in May – said the current bill is “unacceptable” and lacks the resources to cover the mentally ill, addicted and working poor. He supports making mental health and addiction services “essential benefits” that states are required to offer, but is more concerned that the drastic cuts in expenditures will leave people without coverage.
“If they don’t want to improve this bill, I’m not for this bill,” he said.