Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich welcomed the collapse of the Senate Republican health care bill Tuesday, saying it would come as a “relief” to many.
Kasich, in an interview on CNN’s “The Lead,” told Jake Tapper that members of both parties should seize the moment — and that his fellow Republicans were going the wrong way to consider a full repeal of Obamacare without a substantive and simultaneous replacement.
“I think there are people who are breathing a sigh of relief,” Kasich said.
On Monday evening, two conservative senators announced they would oppose the Senate GOP bill to repeal and replace large portions of Obamacare. That announcement meant Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not have enough support to pass the bill. He announced shortly thereafter that the Senate would attempt to consider a full repeal of the Obamacare legislation, but with a two-year delay on the repeal going into effect. By midday Tuesday, enough senators had announced their opposition to that plan to ensure it would not pass.
Kasich said this move was the wrong way to go, arguing members of his party shouldn’t press forward with a full repeal of the existing law because of how many people need care.
“If you just got rid of that, then a lot of people would lose their health insurance,” Kasich said. “To just repeal something like that, where do people go then? You just can’t walk away from that.”
Kasich also argued the apparent demise of the bill was not necessarily a political failure for Republicans. He said they didn’t need to apologize, and instead just admit their proposed solution had been inadequate.
“I don’t want to have somebody saying, ‘Oh, well, the Republicans failed,'” Kasich said. “No, I think what they’re doing now is saying that we don’t have the best solution.”
Kasich said Republicans and Democrats in Congress should move quickly to shore up the insurance markets. He asserted that based on his own conversations with sitting politicians, he believed there was a bipartisan will to do that, citing conversations he’d had with Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper.
“Tom Carper and I have talked I can’t even tell you how many times,” Kasich said, adding, “Of course, there’s a willingness to work across the aisle.”
Kasich said after politicians came together on the insurance markets, the bigger step they needed to take was reform of the nation’s big-ticket entitlement programs: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
As governor, Kasich opted to expand the Medicaid program in his state under Obamacare. The decision to use a mechanism of Obamacare to increase coverage for poor and disabled people in his state was a controversial choice within his own party and one he was forced to defend during his unsuccessful presidential bid last year. Kasich has criticized the various proposals Republicans in Congress have brought forward over the past several months.
Vice President Mike Pence last week mentioned Kasich, saying that nearly 60,000 disabled people in Kasich’s state of Ohio were stuck on waiting lists because of Obamacare.
Kasich said he didn’t want a “back-and-forth” with Pence, but contended that what the vice president said was “false.”
“We know he’s wrong about that,” Kasich said. “There’s no connection between that and Medicaid.”
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