January 2, 2014

You knew the Tea Party was going to make Governor Kasich pay for that Medicaid expansion, right? Like clockwork, they're poised to launch a primary challenge from Ted Stevenot, who also happens to sell health insurance, that thing Medicaid recipients can't afford.


Ted Stevenot, the president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition and co-founder of the Clermont County tea party, is scheduled to announce his candidacy early next week and is expected to run against Kasich’s decision to implement the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion provision, which will provide Medicaid coverage to residents with incomes above 138 percent of the federal poverty line. The decision could reduce Ohio’s uninsurance rate by over 60 percent and extend basic health benefits to 275,000 of the poorest Ohio residents.

A state board approved using $2.5 billion in federal money to expand Medicaid in October, after Kasich failed to win support for the measure in the Republican-controlled legislature. As a result, multiple conservative groups and Republican lawmakers have filed a lawsuit to prevent the state from accepting the federal dollars to fund the initiative.

Stevenot is a leader of that opposition, arguing that enrolling more people in Medicaid will add to the national debt, undermine the free market, and result in a government takeover. In a March 2013 letter to supporters, Stevenot also claimed that expanding eligibility would add more Democrats to the voting rolls and “turn Ohio into an irrevocably ‘blue’ state.”

I'm sure Stevenot will be well-funded by his TeaBircher pals and the Kochs. It's not that I'm rooting for Kasich. I actually would love to see conservatives blow out a lot of money on the primaries and then have a strong Dem step in with funding and principles. But for Ohio's sake and the sake of those newly-eligible Medicaid recipients, I hope Stevenot's campaign lands with a splat in the middle of the political road.

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