Tom Zawistowski, a Tea Party candidate for Ohio Republican Party chairman, today hailed the Ohio Republican General Assembly leaders for kicking the Medicaid expansion out of Gov. John Kasich's budget.
Kasich is a Republican, too, but you'd hardly know it from what's going on right now in Columbus.
On Tuesday, GOP leaders rolled out their own version of Kasich's budget, but without some of his key proposals. One of those was to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid eligibility in Ohio. That move would have covered an additional 450,000 Ohio residents who don't have private insurance in the next eight years.
Kasich said it's hard to turn down an opportunity that would be fully paid for by the federal government for the first three years, or about $13 billion over seven years - and that would cover the medical needs of low-income Ohioans.
Conservatives don't like it because it entangles Ohio in ObamaCare and promotes big government. A study published by the conservative group Ohio Rising highlighted Arizona's experience with Medicaid expansion. The costs zoomed far beyond the projections and there was no increase in private insurance (we'll be offering a counter view shortly).
Here's what Zawistowski says in his letter to House Speaker Bill Batchelder and the Republican members of the House:
"I thank Speaker Batchelder and our House members for removing Medicaid Expansion for the Budget. It is an essential step toward bring unity to our party going forward.
"This issue is one of the reasons that I have chosen to run for Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. I was involved in this fight long before I decided to run for Chairman.
"It quickly became clear to me that the leadership of the Republican Party had no concept of the damage that the passage of Medicaid Expansion would do to the Party. This vote may prevent the defection of a critical part of our party base."
Zawistowski is challenging Matt Borges, the party's executive director, who's been endorsed by all of the party's statewide elected officials. The GOP central committee meets April 26 to elect a chairman to replace Bob Bennett, who is retiring to "chairman emeritus" status.
Zawistowski, 57, owner of a communications company, is the former President of the Ohio Liberty Coalition and the current Executive Director of the Portage County TEA Party.