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John Kasich: Ohio will 'have to figure something out' if Supreme Court ends PPACA subsidies

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(Bloomberg Politics) — COLUMBIA, S.C. — Most Republican governors have resisted taking Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) Medicaid expansion money. Ohio Gov. John Kasich took it right away, and he has chastised critics in religious terms.

“When you die and get to the meeting with St. Peter,” told the Columbus Dispatch in 2013, “he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.”

On a Wednesday visit to South Carolina, as Kasich stoked speculation that he may run for president, I asked him how he’d respond if the Supreme Court struck down subsidies for people who bought health insurance plans through the federal exchange at

“If we ended up in a situation — and again, I don’t like to get ahead of ourselves on what a Supreme Court might do — but if it threw half a million people [off] insurance, we’d have to look at it,” said Kasich. “And we haven’t made any determination on that, but — I’m gonna try to avoid your question — I’ve got good people working on this. We’ve chatted about this. If the court makes a decision that these exchanges get shut down, then we’re gonna have to figure something out in Ohio.”

I followed up, and asked if Kasich would rule out creating an exchange for Ohio. “I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t want to tell you exactly. There are things you have to think about. There are a lot of options you have to think about. There’s choices you have to make. I don’t want to have to make choices before I know what’s in hand.”

When I tweeted a version of the exchange, Case Western Reserve University law professor Jonathan Adler suggested that Kasich was flouting the state constitution. And Adler had some stake in this, as he’d shaped the subsidies cases that resulted in King vs. Burwell.

Kasich was suggesting that it would be worth rescuing the Ohio plans purchased through the federal exchange, and that he’d had top men thinking about it — without any indication that there might be a conflict with Ohio’s constitution.

Some progressives who read Kasich’s remarks are skeptical that he’d want to follow through. More and more Republicans were saying that they’d respond to a King win by doing something for the people whose subsidies had been ripped away; to defenders of the law, it seems like a ruse meant to convince the court that it could end the subsidies without chaos breaking out in the 35 states that lack their own exchanges.

See also: 10 states where the Supreme Court may help short-term health sales.


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