— -- Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio says that the current version of the Senate Republican health care bill is “not an acceptable choice.”
“If you cut $750 billion out of Medicaid, and in the out years you basically starve the program, we have to choose between children, seniors, the disabled, the addicted, the mentally ill,” Kasich said in an interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz on “This Week” Sunday.
Ohio represents a microcosm of why many have concerns about the Republican Senate health care bill, afflicted with an ongoing opioid epidemic, the state also has 700,000 people currently insured through the Medicaid expansion that Kasich established in the state.
Kasich, who has opposed both the GOP House and Senate health care bills this year, said cuts to Medicaid in the proposed Senate bill would make it harder for states like Ohio to treat opioid addicts.
“If they’re going to give $45 billion [in funding for addiction treatment] over 10 years, I’m getting almost $300 million, $600 million a year. That would give me a billion over 10 years? Not even quite that. It’s anemic. It’s like spitting in the ocean. It’s not enough,” Kasich said.
But increasing funding for opioid addiction would not be enough for the Republican governor to get behind the Senate bill.
“Everyone is focused on the drug problem because it's unbelievable. It's horrific and we all know it,” Kasich said. “It’s not just Medicaid and the fact that there’s not enough money in Medicaid legitimately to treat people and be able to reform the program. It’s the entire bill and the entire package.”
“Obamacare needs significant reform. There’s nobody that I talk to, either side of the aisle, that doesn’t think there has to be some significant changes,” Kasich told Raddatz.
But the Ohio governor said President Trump’s latest call to repeal Obamacare now and replace it later is also not an option.
“You can’t do nothing and you can’t do something that dismantles the whole program,” said the governor, adding that the Senate bill should not be rushed.
“It can’t be done in a slipshod way just looking at lines on a paper,” said Kasich, “because the lines, actually, are filled with blood, the blood of people that would be affected.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week delayed an initial vote on the health care bill until after the July 4th recess.
Kasich is calling for leaders in Washington to find a better solution to health care reform.
“Build the people and put them in a stronger place where everyone’s lifted,” Kasich said. “I don’t know how you could sit down there and not put the country first.”
If politicians prioritize country over party, he believes the bill “can and will be fixed,” Kasich said.