I’ve been traveling Ohio as part of my 88-county tour of the state during my run for governor. From diners to veterans posts to families’ living rooms, I’ve spoken to countless voters. Over the past weeks, I’ve heard a growing fear: people all over this state are worried about losing their health care.
Politicians in Washington, D.C. and in Columbus are actively planning to inflict real pain on hundreds of thousands of Ohio families. At the same time, Anthem announced it’s exiting our state insurance exchange – potentially leaving 20 or so counties without any insurance option in the individual market.
In Washington, Senate Republicans unveiled a bill that was drafted in secret with input from insurance lobbyists, but not from the American public. The bill would return us to the days when insurance companies could refuse care to those with pre-existing conditions. Washington and Columbus Republicans are also plotting to roll back the Medicaid expansion, which has been critical for extending insurance to working Ohioans – especially our veterans and our Appalachian and rural communities. It’s also been a crucial weapon in our battle against the opioid and heroin crisis.
Why would they do this? It’s simple: To give a handout to the big insurance companies and to pay for tax cuts for the billionaires and special interests who fund their campaigns. And, they won’t think twice about sticking working Ohio families with the bill.
When I’m governor, I’ll do everything in my power to make sure Ohioans have access to affordable health care – including continuing the Medicaid expansion.
And just last week, I unveiled my “Public Option” proposal. My plan would open up Medicaid – the publicly funded health insurance program that delivers care at low costs – to be sold on the health exchange at cost. My plan would also open up the health insurance program offered to state employees and lawmakers for purchase on the exchange.
This would ensure that people who don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare still have access to affordable health care and at least two plans to choose from in every county of Ohio.
I believe that health care is a right, not a privilege. In my vision for Ohio, everyone can see a doctor and get the care they need. This is a moral issue – but it’s also an economic one. We desperately need to create jobs and grow our economy, but we need a healthy workforce for a healthy economy.
This column originally appeared in the Cincinnati Enquirer.