In case you missed it… During this weekend’s Ohio Republican Party fundraiser, Vice President Mike Pence continued to add fuel to the fire of his public spat with Ohio Gov. John Kasich — and for good measure, threw Sen. Rob Portman on top of the blaze, too.
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Mike Pence didn’t quite espouse the factual discrepancies of a speech last week, but the Republican vice president still appears at odds with Ohio’s top GOP elected officials on health care.
The Ohio Republican Party’s state dinner this weekend brought in hundreds, and included two leaders with two different perspectives on the Senate health care bill. And that puts the person who’ll actually be voting on it in a tough position.
Senator Rob Portman is undecided on the health care bill, which he touched on in his speech: “I’ve talked to a lot of you about that tonight, and half of you have told me one thing and half of you told me another thing.”
Portman then introduced Vice President Mike Pence, who urged Senators to pass the bill. Also at the reception before the dinner was Gov. John Kasich, who’s come out against the bill and what it would do to Medicaid expansion in Ohio. Three of the four candidates for governor also spoke. And Jim Renacci, Jon Husted and Mike DeWine praised Pence but didn’t mention Kasich. Mary Taylor was scheduled but her spokesman says she was traveling and couldn’t make it.
Pence made a few remarks that seemingly put the squeeze on Portman, who is among one of many Republicans against the administration’s plan.
The bill has been toxic for moderates like Portman, with steep cuts to Medicaid and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimating tens-of millions of people losing coverage.
This isn’t the first time Pence has tried to put some pressure on Ohio lawmakers regarding Obamacare. He recently clashed with Gov. John Kasich, one of the most vocal Republican opponents of the repeal plan, when he made false statements about Medicaid in the state.
During a speech to the National Governors Association, Pence blamed Medicaid for 60,000-person waitlist of disabled people.
“Gov. Kasich isn’t with us, but I suspect that he’s very troubled to know that in Ohio alone, nearly 60,000 disabled citizens are stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years,” Pence said during the NGA speech.
The Medicaid expansion has no effect on the wait time and a staffer for Kasich called it fake news. Politifact rated the statement false.
The Ohio GOP is anything but united these days: four well-known Republicans are jockeying to be governor, John Kasich recently took a public swipe at Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is walking a tightrope over health care reforms and state Treasurer Josh Mandel faces a primary opponent in the U.S. Senate race.
Vice President Mike Pence’s criticism of Ohio’s Medicaid expansion appears to be a high-profile case of the pot calling the kettle black.
Speaking last weekend to the National Governors Association, Pence said that the expansion enabled “able-bodied” Ohioans to elbow past 60,000 “vulnerable” Buckeyes with developmental disabilities to obtain health-insurance benefits.
The claim singled out by name Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a fellow Republican who opposes the health-care proposals backed by President Donald Trump and Pence.
The claim also was quickly disputed by a number of fact checkers after The Dispatch initially raised questions about it. Politifact rated it “false.” The Washington Post, which later said the tactic backfired politically, said Pence’s statement would have received multiple “Pinocchios” had it been rated separately.
And it turns out that, at best, the vice president should have known better. When he was Indiana’s governor, Pence himself expanded Medicaid even though the state had its own waiting list of Hoosiers with developmental disabilities seeking services.
And, as in Ohio, the Indiana waiting list for those with developmental disabilities is widely seen as unrelated to the Medicaid expansion.
For Clere, the southern Indiana legislator, it was another in a pattern of misleading statements the vice president has made since helping to create the Healthy Indiana Plan, which has extended Medicaid coverage to more than 400,000 Hoosiers. When Pence speaks of the Indiana expansion, he touts “consumer-driven” features such as premiums and health-savings accounts in an attempt to obscure that it is, indeed, Medicaid expansion, Clere said.
The health-care bill that Pence was promoting when he slammed the Ohio expansion would have ended it along with the one he devised in Indiana. It would have cut $770 billion in national Medicaid spending over 10 years and created a big tax cut tilted toward the wealthiest Americans.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Clere said. “Medicaid expansion was Pence’s greatest accomplishment as governor. It doesn’t make sense that he’s working so hard as vice president to undermine and erase his biggest accomplishment. The politics are disgusting.”