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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman July 20, 2018

Ohio Republican Mike DeWine changed position on Medicaid expansion

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the Republican running for governor, announced July 11 that he supports keeping Medicaid expansion, leading Democrats to accuse him of flip-flopping.

"The DeWine-Husted Administration will need to keep extended Medicaid coverage for adults," DeWine said during a press conference where the Ohio State Medical Association PAC endorsed his campaign. "We will also reform the program. This is consistent with what we have been saying."

DeWine’s Democratic rival Richard Cordray pushed back on DeWine’s statement that he had been consistent on Medicaid expansion.

"This is such an enormous flip-flop that it's more likely a belly flop!" Cordray tweeted.

About 700,000 Ohioans have Medicaid due to the expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

We will examine DeWine’s statements on our Flip-O-Meter, which measures if politicians’ have flip-flopped and to what extent. Some voters see flip-flops as a sign of hypocrisy while others may view them as a politician evolving on an issue.

We found that for years DeWine has opposed the Affordable Care Act, which included Medicaid expansion. At times he has been vague when pressed to give a yes-or-no answer on Medicaid expansion, and he’s repeated a talking point that he wanted to reform the program. In July, he came out in support of the expansion.

DeWine on Medicaid expansion before the 2018 campaign

On DeWine’s first day in office as attorney general in 2011, he authorized Ohio to join the multistate lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

His statement called the law a "huge federal overreach" and criticized the individual mandate. The lawsuit challenged a few core provisions of the law, including Medicaid expansion, which came with an implied threat that the government would withhold funding unless states complied.

When DeWine spelled out what he thought were the sins of the law in an op-ed in the Washington Times in 2012, he included Medicaid expansion, although Ohio had not yet signed on to expansion.

"Obamacare is, quite simply, the federal version of Romneycare," DeWine wrote the day after the lawsuit was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. "All of the problems that we have seen unfold in Massachusetts -- doctor shortages, Medicaid expansion and escalating health insurance costs -- are already starting to take place across the country as Obamacare is implemented."

The Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate and ruled that states would have a choice about expanding Medicaid.

The next year, Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich expanded Medicaid.

In 2017, DeWine refused to take sides in the battle between Kasich and the GOP-controlled General Assembly about expansion.

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DeWine’s talking point about a third option on Medicaid

When DeWine launched his campaign for governor in June 2017, he was asked at a forum if he would end Medicaid expansion.

"I’m against Obamacare; this is part of Obamacare," he said.

In June 2017 DeWine said in a TV interview that the Medicaid expansion "has done a lot of good for people who do have an addiction."

DeWine said that "smart sheriffs" are helping inmates enroll in Medicaid when they leave jail.

"We don’t want that to go away," he said.

During the primary, DeWine avoided giving a yes-or-no answer to whether he would maintain Medicaid expansion although he said that it was "financially unsustainable."

His talking point was that he would pursue a "third way," which included seeking a waiver from the federal government to change the program.

Ohio already has a pending waiver with the federal government to add work requirements.

DeWine announces support for Medicaid expansion

On July 11, the Ohio State Medical Association announced that DeWine had gained it's backing in part because he agreed to keep the Medicaid expansion.

At the press conference, DeWine emphasized that he wanted drug addicts to continue getting treatment through Medicaid expansion. He vowed to "keep extended Medicaid coverage for adults" as well as to reform the program to encourage able-bodied adults to work.

DeWine said that "there is no change" to his Medicaid policy.

"What we said all along is it had to be reformed," he said.

Our conclusion

When DeWine came out in support of Medicaid expansion, his critics accused him of flip-flopping.

For years, DeWine has opposed the Affordable Care Act, which included Medicaid expansion. DeWine's position has evolved, though. During the primary he said that the program was financially unsustainable and needed reform, but he's also said that Medicaid expansion helped drug addicts pay for treatment. On July 11, DeWine announced that he would keep Medicaid expansion.

The change of positions has happened over the course of several years, but it is a distinct change. We rate this a Full Flop.

Our Sources

Statenews NPR, "Campaigns For Governor Come Out Swinging On Medicaid Expansion," July 13, 2018

WOSU Radio, "DeWine’s Medicaid Expansion Support Shows Delicate Balance On Issue," July 16, 2018

WTOL, Interview clip with Mike DeWine, June 25, 2017

Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Mike DeWine says he'd keep Ohio's Medicaid expansion as governor," July 11, 2018

Attorney General Mike DeWine op-ed to Washington Times, "Romney's individual mandate problem; GOP candidate's health care plan was model for Obamacare," March 27, 2012

Attorney General Mike DeWine, "Attorney General DeWine Authorizes Action to Challenge Constitutionality of Health Care Law," Jan 10, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court, State of Florida and other states vs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2011

SCOTUSBlog, "Court holds that states have choice whether to join medicaid expansion," June 28, 2012

CWColumbus, "DeWine will keep Medicaid expansion, Democrats call it a ‘flip flop,’" July 11, 2018

Columbus Dispatch, "DeWine now would keep Medicaid expansion," July 12, 2018

Columbus Dispatch, "Ohio Medicaid battle is lingering in Columbus," Nov. 13, 2013

Ohio Democratic Party, "DeWine breaks out the flip flops," July 13, 2018

Ohio Democratic Party, "Day One of Mike DeWine’s Gubernatorial Campaign: Double-Speak on Medicaid Expansion," June 26, 2017

Washington Post Power Post, "The Daily 202: GOP candidates caught in a bind on Medicaid," July 13, 2018

Ohio State Medical Association press release, "Ohio Physicians PAC Backs DeWine for Governor," July 11, 2018

AP, "Docs back DeWine after he commits to keep Medicaid," July 11, 2018

Mike DeWine campaign, "Phony" attack ad, 2018 GOP primary for governor

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine press release, "Attorney General DeWine Authorizes Action to Challenge Constitutionality of Health Care Law," Jan. 10, 2011

DeWine-Husted Campaign, Tweet, July 11, 2018

Richard Cordray, Tweet, July 11, 2018

Vindicator Editorial, "DeWine should join Kasich in opposing health-care suit," June 26, 2018

WSYX-CBO (ABC), Interview with Mike DeWine on Medicaid, (TVEyes subscription) June 26, 2018

Columbus Dispatch, "Cordray wants more resources to fight infant mortality crisis," June 20, 2018

Kaiser Family Foundation, "5 Key Questions: Medicaid Block Grants & Per Capita Caps," Jan. 31, 2017

Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Cordray wooing Kasich’s followers Analysis," June 24, 2018

Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Live video: Republican Ohio governor candidates Mike DeWine and Mary Taylor meet with editorial board," April 5, 2018

Toledo Blade, DeWine touts self as 'problem solver' April 29, 2018

Columbus Dispatch, "DeWine not taking sides in showdown over Medicaid freeze," June 28, 2018

Attorney General Mike DeWine, Tweets about Obamacare, 2010-2014

State of Ohio, Mike DeWine discusses his campaign for governor, March 16, 2018, Ohio and the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, April 3, 2018

Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, "Medicaid Waiver Tracker: Which States Have Approved and Pending Section 1115 Medicaid Waivers?" July 17, 2018

PolitiFact, "In Ohio governor's race, liberal PAC exaggerates impact of Obamacare repeal," July 10, 2018

PolitiFact, "The Principles of the Truth-O-Meter: PolitiFact’s methodology for independent fact-checking," Feb. 12, 2018

Interview, Dan Tierney, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine spokesman, July 17, 2018

Interview, Joshua Eck, Mike DeWine campaign spokesman, July 17, 2018

Interview, Lacey Rose, Richard Cordray campaign spokeswoman, July 16, 2018

Interview, Gail Wilensky, head of Medicare and Medicaid under President George H.W. Bush, July 17, 2018

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