WASHINGTON — Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Sunday blasted President Donald Trump’s decision to stop funding some health care subsides during an interview with host Chuck Todd on NBC's “Meet The Press.”
“What I don't understand, Chuck, is what are they doing?” the governor asked. “Are they just passing these things and people are praising what the president did because of politics? I mean, do they understand the impact that this has on families, on people?”
On Friday, President Trump announced that his administration was ending the key Affordable Care Act payments to insurers that are aimed at off-setting the costs of helping lower premiums for low-income Americans — also known as “cost-sharing reduction payments."
The president and many other Republicans have called these subsidies a "payoff" to health insurers.
Kasich slammed that suggestion on “Meet The Press,” saying, “these were payments to insurance companies to make sure that hardworking Americans, who don't make a lot of money, can have their co-payments taken care of.”
But the governor didn’t go as far as to say the president’s action was a purposeful attempt to sabotage Obamacare. “I can't read people's minds,” Kasich said.
Trump's move this week came after multiple attempts by the Republican-led Congress to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
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In late August, Kasich and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado released their own health care blueprint, and six other governors from both sides of the aisle also signed on.
That proposal involved Congress stepping in to establish funding for the cost-sharing reduction payments.
Hickenlooper testified in front of a Senate panel led by Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., but the future of Senate negotiations between the two senators and their committee remains in question, and thus far, the administration has been sending mixed messages on where the future of health care legislation in Congress may go from here.
Kasich felt like Alexander and Murray “disappeared,” but still holds hope they’ll be able to pull something together that’s “absolutely bipartisan.”
He did, however, express frustration with the health care work in Congress much more broadly.
"It's a shame on everybody," Kasich said. "And who gets hurt? People. And it's just, it just, it’s outrageous."
The governor stands in a distinct position in the Republican Party, frequently willing to speak out about one Republican health care proposal after another as the leader of a major state, while frequently and intensely vocalizing those thoughts on national television.
But even in his home state, not all members of his own party are following his lead on health care. Ohio’s Republican Senator Rob Portman has supported multiple proposals that Kasich did not favor, and Kasich’s own lieutenant governor, Mary Taylor (who is running to succeed him as governor), has said she doesn’t want to continue the Medicaid expansion Kasich enacted.
Even since the election, Kasich has also been talking about his disappointment with the direction of the Republican Party on a national level, and he spoke on Sunday about how he feels he’s working to “fight” to push it in the direction he favors.
“I never give up, Chuck,” he said. "You know, I'm optimistic that I can move the party, you know, in a direction that will be positive.”
The governor again would not rule out another bid for the presidency in 2020, saying “I don’t know what I am going to do tomorrow.”
But he did offer an anecdote about what his wife may feel about it.
“The other day, with all the chaos going on, my wife said to me one morning, she said, ‘You know, John, I wish you were president.’ That's how I knew the country was in trouble.”