What would cause an otherwise fiscally conservative budget hawk to push for Medicaid expansion – an unsustainable, broken system that provides substandard, if any, care to those in need – and turn his back on the very constituents that supported him?
When Governor Kasich made his announcement to support Medicaid expansion in Ohio, it made no sense to anyone who knows the Governor’s fiscal policies or congressional history. The only plausible explanation was that it’s campaign season.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was intentionally constructed to turn health care providers into lobbyists for Medicaid expansion, by phasing out federal funding that currently offsets some of the charity work hospitals are mandated to provide.
The Ohio Hospital Assoc. (OHA) claims that Medicaid must be expanded to care for the poor, but only 16 out of the 88 hospitals in its network would have reported a loss had they not received charity offsets, and only 30 hospitals reported charity offsets exceeding 1 percent of their total revenue (Ohio Hospitals Would Net Millions Without Charity Care Funding). But the OHA insists that its members need more taxpayer funding. Really?
Former OHA President and CEO James Castle was paid more than $600,000 by the hospital lobbying group in 2011. The current chair of the OHA Board James Pancoast (who is also CEO of Premier Health Partners) was paid more than $800,000 in 2011. The Cleveland Clinic – the model of health care according to President Obama – paid the most recent past chair of the OHA, Fred DeGrandis, almost $900,000. And the list goes on (Ohio Hospital Association Millionaires Want More of Your Money).
What about insurance companies? Rep. Barbara Sears, who recently introduced House Bill 176 to expand Medicaid in Ohio, manages the employee benefits division at Roemer Insurance, and more than 27 percent of the donations made to her campaign account came from the health care industry alone. Rep. Sears’ top donor, Ginni Ragan, has been identified as a supporter of the ACA Medicaid expansion. Other top donors were Friends of Ohio Hospitals, the OHA, Aetna, Humana, Merck and Novartis, just to name a few (source: Ohio Secretary of State).
Who was one of the top contributors to Governor Kasich’s campaign? Barbara Mixon, wife of Mal Mixon who owns Invacare Corporation (manufacturer and distributor of home and long-term care medical products) and is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of The Cleveland Clinic Foundation(Followthemoney.org).
It is these same organizations that have threatened to pull their campaign funding from anyone who opposes Medicaid expansion.
What these organizations, the Governor and other Medicaid expansion proponents seem to have forgotten is that regardless of the money in their campaign coffers, without the grassroots conservative vote, they cannot win. Governor Romney is a perfect example of what happens when the grassroots conservatives are left uninspired and feeling betrayed.