Guest column: Thanks, Obama

Adri Montes

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday that, while median household incomes and official poverty rates remain stagnant, more Americans have health coverage. Employment-based insurance isn’t helping much, but the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and Medicaid expansion are. The Census Bureau reported that the uninsured rate changed from 13.3 percent in 2013 to 10.4 percent in 2014, or 8.8 million people.

Under Obamacare, states were given the option of expanding eligibility for Medicaid, or leaving the decision in the hands of state leaders like Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Ohio’s Controlling Board, a bipartisan legislative panel and Governor Kasich, decided to expand Medicaid under Obamacare in October 2013, allowing the federal government to cover the costs until 2017 when they scale back funding by five percent. As expected, the states that did decide to expand Medicaid are seeing greater declines in uninsured rates than states that opted out of Medicaid expansion.

Governor Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid under Obamacare has led to waves of criticism from the political right. While Kasich has stated that he doesn’t approve of the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, but does support Medicaid expansion based on moral grounds, not everyone in the GOP approves of his compassionate conservatism.

Politically, Kasich’s decision may help him appear more moderate in the presidential race and grab demographics that other Republicans have no chance of acquiring. As Kasich strives toward the Oval Office, it’s obvious that his decision to expand Medicaid will be highlighted and criticized in the media and presidential debates, but may end up working in his favor closer to nominations.

It’s unclear whether Governor Kasich’s decision to expand Medicaid will help or hurt his presidential chances, but it’s exceedingly evident from the Census Bureau’s report that Obamacare is working and will continue to cover more Americans annually.

Adri Montes is a guest columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].