DeWine will keep Medicaid expansion, Democrats call it a "flip flop"

Attorney General Mike DeWine said he would keep Medicaid expansion in Ohio, but change parts of it (WSYX/WTTE)

Attorney General Mike DeWine announced Wednesday he would continue one of the most controversial policies of the Kasich Administration. Gov. Kasich was one of the few Republican governors to expand Medicaid as part of Obamacare. DeWine said he would keep the expansion if elected governor, but make changes to it.

“The DeWine-Husted Administration will need to keep extended Medicaid coverage for adults," he said during a press conference to announce the endorsement of the Ohio State Medical Association. "We will also, also reform the program. This is consistent with what we have been saying.”

Expanding Medicaid was a key issue during the Republican primary between DeWine and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. Both candidates attacked one another on the issue. Taylor said she would end the program because it wasn't sustainable. DeWine said Tuesday there's a way to keep the program and make it sustainable.

“(I would create) a reformed Medicaid expansion that puts an emphasis on that person becoming independent, that person being able to take care of themselves," he said.

Supporters of the expansion have said for years it has helped thousands of Ohioans struggling with opioid addiction. DeWine said he wanted to make the program more sustainable by adding work requirements. His running mate Secretary of State Jon Husted said the requirements would be 20 hours of work a week or 80 hours a month. Someone would also be able to stay on Medicaid if they were receiving drug treatment or in a job training program as well.

Democrats have tried to get DeWine to clarify his position on this issue. They said he's changed his mind during the middle of the campaign.

“Remember that as Attorney General from the very beginning he opposed the Affordable Care Act and wanted to wipe out the entire thing including the Medicaid expansion," said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rich Cordray.

Cordray said there were changes he would make to improve the market exchanges and children's health care program CHIP. Democrats said Republicans have started to come around to their line of thinking when it comes to the benefits of the Medicaid expansion.

“To have a candidate who in the middle of a campaign has suddenly decided that the position that he’s taken for seven years is wrong and not give us an explanation for why he’s doing an absolute flip flop on this speaks for itself," Cordray said.

Kasich said recently whomever takes over the Governor's office should keep the Medicaid expansion. He has credited it with providing health care to thousands of Ohioans who have been able to get treatment for opioid addiction.

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