Gov. John Kasich spoke for more than an hour in his State of the State address last night, but not once did he directly mention what may have been his most significant achievement of 2013: Medicaid expansion. ideastream's Nick Castele takes a look at what Republicans lawmakers made of that.
About the closest Kasich came to referencing Medicaid was this:
"Doctors and clinics are available in more places," Kasich said. "Communities can offer more care to those in need, including many who may not be poor."
Kasich ruffled conservative feathers last year when he pushed to expand eligibility for the program under the Affordable Care Act. GOP legislators didn't want to vote for the expansion, so Kasich went around them and had the state controlling board approve accepting federal funds for the program.
House Speaker William Batchelder says the governor's maneuver to bring Medicaid expansion into Ohio through a side door still stings.
"There are some who are not going to be at all happy about that ever," Batchelder said.
Still, Batchelder said Kasich offered conservatives plenty in his speech for them to appreciate -- such as allowing veterans to receive college credit for training they get in the military and expanding vocational training for Ohio students.
"Which would, I think, be very helpful to a lot of people who simply aren't doing well in school, and they drop out," he said. "And when they do, that's pretty much a tough thing for the rest of their life."
State Rep. Anthony DeVitis of Green wouldn't speculate as to why the governor didn't mention Medicaid, but said Kasich is making headway combating addiction.
"I do think we have put a lot of effort into addressing the drug problems that people do have in the state of Ohio right now," DeVitis said. "It is serious."
And State Rep. Lynn Wachtmann of Napoleon, who had told the Cincinnati Enquirer he could get behind Medicaid expansion, but preferred a vote by the general assembly, said he was ready to back the governor on his pledge to cut income taxes.
"When you raise taxes, you hurt people," Wachtmann said. "When you lower taxes, you life people up, allow them to keep their own money, take their own initiative, make their own investments, instead of government determining what their future is."
Asked about Medicaid expansion, State Rep. Marlene Anielski put it this way: "We just have to keep on moving forward, because it's a done deal now. So how are we going to make sure that we can sustain it?"