GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio under pressure on health bill


U.S. Sen. Rob Portman continued to face intense pressure back home Tuesday to oppose the Senate's GOP health care bill.

Mr. Kasich was in Washington Tuesday with Democratic fellow Gov. John Hicklenhooper, of Colorado, to defend the expansion as Senate Republican leadership worked to corral votes to overhaul so-called Obamacare. He was subjected to baseball game flyovers, demonstrations, television ads and a verbal onslaught by GOP Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who views the bill's Medicaid cuts as harmful to America's most vulnerable citizens. He said the state's uninsured rate declined from 23% before the Affordable Care Act to 11 or 12% afterward.

He added,"I went to a major newspaper, and I had somebody sit next to me - the paper has been very critical of a lot of the health care stuff - the lady sitting next to me said, 'Could I speak to you after the meeting?' I said 'sure.' She whispered after everybody left the room".

Under the Senate's proposed bill, federal funding for Medicaid expansion - which has allowed millions of people to enroll in Medicaid who previously weren't eligible - would be cut back by 5 percentage points each year, beginning in 2020.

"It's just unconscionable to me that anybody who is serious about dealing with this opioid addiction could be satisfied with the bill - even supporting $45 billion, let alone $2 billion", said Michael Botticelli, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Obama. That caught Portman, who represents a closely divided battleground state, in the crosshairs of the high-stakes intraparty fight.

"Both parties ought to be anxious about poor people because I don't think either party particularly cares about helping poor people", Kasich said to CNN's Dana Bash in reference to both parties failing to get healthcare legislation passed.

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Asked about the criticism he's gotten for breaking with conservatives on Medicaid expansion, Kasich responded, "My job is to be intellectually honest through this process, and that's what I intend to do". But it then adopted a freeze on new enrollment beginning on July 1, 2018, a provision that Mr. Kasich might exercise his line-item veto to strike if it remains in the final bill. Both the Senate and House plan to cast up or down votes on Wednesday. "I don't get any sense".

Cleveland resident Juanita Brent, 32, was among the protesters Tuesday.

He said he believes agreement has been struck on much of the issues. "We're all one decision away from not having a job, being unemployed, or disabled, or sick, and losing your health care". "Are they going to be served by this bill in the future?' My conclusion right now is no", the Republican governor said.

Portman was also targeted in a seven-figure broadcast and digital ad buy by the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, a trade association for Medicaid-affiliated health plans.

Labor unions also upped the temperature on Portman, saying at a Statehouse rally that he was "playing games" with health care.