Ironically, the rallies came on the heels of Kasich’s recent comments chastising Republican opponents of Medicaid expansion for betraying their conservative, Christian values.
In an interview with a Reuters’ reporter, Kasich said he told one Ohio lawmaker last week: “When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he’s going to ask you what you did for the poor. You’d better have a good answer.”
Jermaine Armour, a Springfield Township resident and pastor at Saint Mark AME Zion Church, applauded the governor’s approach even if his comments about faith were tinged with political rhetoric.
“In politics, it seems like there is always an angle,” Armour said. “But we as believers, we welcome Gov. Kasich to join us in trying to appeal to the greater good in the hearts of people.”
Armour said expanding Medicaid as first proposed under the Affordable Care Act would benefit many of his parishioners because it would extend coverage to anyone earning up to 138 percent of poverty, regardless of their household makeup. Ohio, like most states, does not extend Medicaid coverage to adults unless they have children or are disabled.
But the Republican-led legislature nixed Medicaid expansion from Kasich’s budget, arguing the federal government can’t guarantee it will live up to its promise to fully fund the expansion for the first three years, and, even if it did, the expansion would add billions of dollars to the federal deficit.
Church leaders counter that the moral imperative to provide health care for as many Ohioans as possible outweighs the political and financial risk.
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to be an advocate for those who are less fortunate,” said Rick Nance, senior pastor at New Vision. “When you live life from that perspective — politically or not — we know that at the end of the day, we still have needs we have not yet met in our community.”
Staff writer Andrew J. Tobias contributed to this report.