Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Sen. Sherrod Brown speaks out on Gov. Kasich's plan to require Medicaid recipients to find work

After other states like Kentucky and Iowa and Indiana, each controlled by austerity-minded, tax-averse Republicans that love to talk tough about personal responsibility, it was only a matter of time before Ohio would follow suit and ask the Trump Administration for permission to require Buckeyes needing Medicaid health insurance to find a job.

John Kasich on Election Night 2010
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, now term limited and looking ahead to what his next lucrative job might be, has been a broken record on calling for personal responsibility by individuals. Meanwhile, the CEO-style leader is ideologically averse to ask the same commitment from corporations, who apparently are worthy beneficiaries of state largess that include reduced taxes. fewer regulations and taxpayer-financed loan programs.

Reports out Wednesday say Kasich’s administration is moving forward to ask Washington regulators to approve adding a work requirement for adults who use expanded Medicaid coverage for their health care. By contrast, such a requirement wasn't allowed by the Obama administration.

On his weekly call with Ohio media, I asked Sen. Brown what his thoughts were on requiring people poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, tax-funded insurance for the poor and disabled that dates back to the Johnson Administration in 1965, to find a job?

Keep in mind that Kasich, who promised when he ran for his first term in 2010 to "move the needle" on jobs," has not done well in moving that needle when compared to many other states. In fact, while he claims to have created hundred of thousands of jobs, the reality of that claim is that scores of thousands of jobs he takes ownership for came through efforts by his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland. Strickland weathered the Great Recession, turning the tide around enough in 2009 to deliver both jobs and about $1 billion in revenue to Kasich, who will never acknowledge what he inherited from Strickland.

Another factor that presents a problem is that Gov. Kasich has failed for 61 straight months to meet or exceed the national job creation average. Ohio is ranked 33rd in job creation by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. It's tough to find a job when those jobs go wanting in so many of Ohio's 88 counties.

Kasich, who ran for president in 2016 and got clobbered in the process, isn't big on transparency, especially when it comes to releasing his tax returns. However, through required filings for his second loss for the White House, the public learned his net worth is gaged between $9 and $22 million, as Forbes Magazine notes. Not bad for a congressman who served 18 years in Washington, who parlayed that time into lucrative gigs on Fox News and at Lehman Brothers, the storied Wall Street investment banking firm whose collapse triggered the meltdown on Wall Street that bloomed into the worse economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Brown's response on the question was that those who may be forced to find employment to keep their coverage under Medicaid, will mostly be stay at home parents, the disabled or those working for minimum wage.

Brown said such requirements come from "privileged politicians," adding that they are "mean spirited and wrong." Without naming the governor by name, Sen. Brown said efforts like Kasich is ready to undertake on behalf of Ohio's very right-wing legislature reflect "bigotry" spewed out by politicians "who should be ashamed of themselves."

A blueprint on Kasich's plan says the state "would exempt those who are over age 55, in school or training for a job, in treatment for drug or alcohol addiction and those with intensive health care needs or serious mental illness."

Kaiser Health News reports that 60 percent of Medicaid recipients nationwide already work, with advocating saying that "the ones that don’t usually have a good reason for not having a job, because they’re caregivers, students or in drug recovery."

Seema Verma was appointed by Trump to lead the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services after she ran Indiana's program under former governor-turned Vice President Mike Pence. She helped Indiana become the first state to enact a very conservative approach to Medicaid. Eight other states have submitted requests similar to Ohios. Sen. Brown voted against her nomination.

Brown is running for his third term in the Senate in Washington. His all-but nominated Republican challenger is Congressman Jim Renacci of northeast Ohio, who earned the endorsement of the Ohio Republican Party last week.

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