GOP Governor Turns To Faith To Explain Why He Supports Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is one of eight Republican governors who have so far said their state will participate in Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. But as the Huffington Post points out, Kasich stands apart in one respect: Of those Republican governors, he is so far the only one to explicitly tie his decision to the values of his religious faith.

While he remains opposed to Obamacare as a whole, the Ohio governor indicated his support for the Medicaid expansion in his annual State of the State remarks last week, pointing to the public health insurance program’s potential to help care for the most vulnerable residents in his state:

The Bible runs [Kasich’s] life “not just on Sunday, but just about every day,” he said in his annual State of the State address Tuesday.

“And I’ve got to tell you, I can’t look at the disabled, I can’t look at the poor, I can’t look at the mentally ill, I can’t look at the addicted and think we ought to ignore them,” he told the audience of about 1,700 lawmakers, state officials and other guests. […]

“Put it in your family,” Kasich said. “Put somebody that is in your family who becomes the wayward child. And they come home one day, they can’t get a job. Put it on your doorstep, and you’ll understand how hard it is.”

Kasich was raised Catholic and worships regularly in an Anglican church. For more than 20 years, he has met every other Monday with a small group of men to study the Bible. And he has written a book about how the experience has helped him in his search for answers.

That’s a theme in keeping with a broader push that’s been made in the expansion’s favor. Earlier this year, religious and community leaders in Ohio held a rally at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, calling on their state to participate in the Medicaid expansion. And back in September, over 100 national, state, and local faith leaders released a statement employing Republican governors as a whole to accept the expansion. Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of the Catholic social justice group NETWORK, said in conjunction with the release that, “My strong support of Medicaid expansion comes out of my pro-life stance because it is the right and moral thing to do.”


Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) wasn’t as explicitly religious as Kasich when he announced his own support for Medicaid expansion, but he did come close. As the Huffington Post noted, Scott said his mother, who passed away last year, taught him that “America’s greatness is largely because of how we value the weakest among us.”

Because the federal government will fund the first several years of the Medicaid expansion, reports have estimated that Ohio will actually enjoy $1.43 billion in net fiscal savings to its state budget over the next eight years if it participates. And failing to expand Medicaid would actually cost the state about $8 billion in additional health care costs, largely because a higher uninsured population would mean greater spending on uncompensated care.