Politics

Published on November 4th, 2018 | by Guest Contributor

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Ohio’s election comes down to health care

Zeb Larson is an Oregonian confronted by the novel feeling of living in a swing state like Ohio. Currently at work on a PhD in history that deals with grassroots activism in the United States, he tries to offer some of his time to progressive organizations.

By Zeb Larson

Mike DeWine’s built a career out of claiming that he’ll do one thing, and then turning around and doing the exact opposite. Nowhere is this more visible than on healthcare. For example, DeWine will point to his record in the Senate when he voted for protections for preexisting conditions. He’ll conveniently omit that he began his career as attorney general by suing the federal government over the Affordable Care Act; had he been successful, both the individual mandate and the protection for those with preexisting conditions would have been scrapped.

 

Similarly, DeWine spent his entire career until this year opposed to the Medicaid expansion, claiming that it was financially unsustainable and criticizing other Republicans for supporting it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he changed his position only under pressure from John Kasich, and as part of an endorsement deal by the Ohio State Medical Association’s PAC. Even now, he wants to attach work requirements as a requirement of eligibility for Medicaid, a move which would likely save little if any money, and which would merely harm people who for a variety of reasons couldn’t comply or deal with the bureaucratic obstacles in their path.

 

Why does Mike DeWine do this? The reason is pretty simple: he’s on the side of insurance and drug companies, and they don’t want to lose profits through regulation or legislation that could trim their profits. DeWine’s taken a staggering amount of money from these companies, close to $2.6 million dollars at this point, and he’s simply not going to do anything to hold them accountable until the pressure to do so is unbearable. DeWine might brag that his office sued pharmaceutical companies for their role in overprescribing opioids, but that took until 2017, at which point opioid addiction had been allowed to reach epidemic proportions around the state. Too little, too late.

 

Rich Cordray’s plan for healthcare can accomplish what DeWine will only talk about. Cordray will fight to protect the Medicaid expansion at a time when many Republicans are still looking to cut it in the legislature. For those living in rural counties with few insurance providers, Cordray will create incentives for companies to move there and offer services to people. Cordray wants to expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program in the state, which is urgently needed: Central Ohio’s infant mortality rate is higher than the national average, and that burden falls heavily on African American families.

 

In a few days, Ohioans are going to be given a choice between Mike DeWine and Rich Cordray. On the one hand, DeWine will only protect access to healthcare under extreme duress and will otherwise take it away given half a chance to do so. Cordray, on the other hand, is committed to securing the best possible healthcare for all Ohioans, and especially those who need it the most.

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