Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) caused a stir Monday night after he made comments to The Associated Press about the Affordable Care Act in which he seemed to criticise the law’s Republican opponents.
Kasich, who is frequently mentioned as a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2016, was quoted in an AP story saying a repeal of the law was “not going to happen.” He later called the AP, along with multiple other outlets, to say he was speaking specifically about a potential repeal of the Medicaid expansion provision of the law known as Obamacare. The AP story was subsequently updated.
Kasich said the AP got it wrong and was to blame for the political firestorm that ensued.
“It was a classic AP botch job,” a Kasich staffer told Business Insider.
The staffer said Kasich’s position has always been that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced, and he thinks a GOP-controlled Congress should work to accomplish the feat during President Barack Obama’s last two years in office. However, the staffer said the governor also believes a replacement plan should include the Medicaid expansion portion of the law.
The AP, however, stood by its story. Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief Sally Buzbee told Business Insider it updated its story, as it “customarily does,” after Kasich’s aides and the governor himself called the publication to expand on his earlier comments.
“The Associated Press stands by its reporting. We accurately quoted Ohio Gov. John Kasich as predicting that repeal won’t happen and that helping poor people gain health coverage is more powerful than political or ideological opposition,” Buzbee said.
Buzbee said two AP reporters interviewed Kasich and were present for his comments. She also drew the distinction that Republicans have focused nationally on repealing the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, not just the Medicaid expansion.
“After the AP story ran, Kasich aides called the AP to assert that he was referring only to a repeal of Medicaid expansion, not a repeal of the entire Affordable Care Act,” she said. “Kasich himself later called the AP to say that his repeal comments were specific only to the law’s Medicaid expansion provision. National Republicans are largely focused on repealing the entire law, not on rolling back the Medicaid provision alone.”
Buzbee also noted the AP did not remove the quote from the updated story.
“As AP customarily does with many stories, we updated our report with the new comments from Kasich and his staff. We did not change Kasich’s original quote about a repeal because it was and remains accurate.”
Asked how the position of not wanting to repeal Medicaid squared with the governor’s support for repealing the entire law, the Kasich staffer cited some positive aspects of Obamacare that have “near-universal support,” like the law’s ban on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions.
“We want to repeal and replace it with something that makes sense,” the staffer said. “And the Medicaid expansion makes sense.”
Kasich is one of nine Republican governors who have, in one form or another, expanded Medicaid under the law despite fierce opposition from their fellow conservatives. Three other GOP governors are in negotiations with the federal government about alternative forms of expansion.
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