By Kim Palmer, Mary Wisniewski and David Morgan
CLEVELAND, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Ohio Gov. John Kasich said on
Monday he would support an expansion of Medicaid under President
Barack Obama's healthcare reform law, extending the program to
hundreds of thousands of residents.
Kasich, a Republican, made his announcement as part of a
press briefing on his $63.3 billion 2014-2015 budget proposal in
the state capital of Columbus Monday. He emphasized that he is
not a supporter of "Obamacare," but believes the Medicaid
expansion, "makes sense for the state of Ohio."
"Ohio taxpayer dollars are coming back to Ohio to support a
significant need we have," Kasich said. He said the extension
would provide health coverage for the working poor. Coverage
would be extended to about 366,000 more Ohioans.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the
signature domestic achievement of Obama's first term, calls for
expanding the Medicaid program for the poor to include Americans
living near the poverty line. In many states, current Medicaid
benefits are limited mainly to children and pregnant women.
The expansion is intended to bring 16 million uninsured
people into the $2.8 trillion U.S. healthcare system. But many
states, which would pay less than 10 percent of the cost under
the law, have balked at the potential budget impact or rejected
the prospect of participating in a new government program.
Kasich joins more than 20 other U.S. governors, including
four other Republicans, in expanding Medicaid.
Since Obama's reelection, at least nine governors have
chosen to support the Medicaid expansion, including the
Republican governors of Arizona, Ohio, Nevada, New Mexico and
North Dakota. Five Republicans have chosen to oppose it.
Another 15 governors - 13 Republicans and two Democrats -
remain undecided. But experts say many are likely to reach
decisions in coming weeks as they propose new budgets for the
fiscal year beginning July 1.
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