Ohio Governor John Kasich said he was “glad” Senate Republicans last week failed to dramatically scale back the 2010 health law, but insisted Congress needs to fix some of the flaws in the law known as Obamacare.
During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, Kasich said Republicans last week “looked over the cliff. And I think they saw that there were going to be a lot of people who were going to be hurt … and they pulled back,” from a seven-year campaign pledge to scrap Obamacare and devise a more market-oriented replacement.
“To a degree, I’m glad that they didn’t fulfill this pledge right now,” Kasich said. “But they have to work on it. And this is where they should call the Democrats in. And they should demand Democratic participation.”
In the early morning hours of Friday by one vote, the Senate killed what appears to have been the final effort by the Republicans to scale back Obamacare by relying solely on the votes of the 52 Senate Republicans.
But members of both political parties have acknowledged that revisions are needed to keep alive the state marketplaces created by Obamacare where middle-income families can rely on federal tax credits and subsidies to buy individual insurance policies.
The marketplaces, known as exchanges, have failed to attract enough younger and healthier people to check the rise in premiums, causing some insurance companies to drop out of the exchanges.
“We can’t be done with it yet,” Kasich said of health care. “And we can’t be done going after the underlying rising costs of health care, the problem of entitlements which is going to kill our economy in this country.”
Kasich was referring to the rapid cost increases in the federal entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare, which pays health costs for the elderly, and Medicaid, a joint federal and state program which provides health care for low-income Americans.
Kasich did not outline what entitlement changes need to be made, but his decision to accept billions of federal dollars made available through Obamacare to expand Medicaid coverage to more than 700,000 people in Ohio has contributed in part to Medicaid’s long-term financial problems.
According to a report issued in June by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, federal Medicaid spending is expected to increase from $385 billion this year to $655 billion in 2027.
The same report shows that federal spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will consume $3.6 trillion of the projected federal budget of $6.6 trillion in 2027, meaning lawmakers will have to either curb benefits or raise taxes in an effort to avoid staggering deficits.
In an interview in June with the New York Times, Kasich said he does not have “a problem with phasing down the enhanced federal payments” for Medicaid expansion. But he warned “it can’t be done overnight, and it has to be done with the resources and the flexibility that are needed so people don’t get left behind. You just can’t be cutting off coverage for people.”