GOP governor's stunning Obamacare admission: John Kasich on why it's here to stay

The potential '16 contender says ACA isn't going away -- and makes surprising admission about what drives opponents

Published October 20, 2014 8:38PM (EDT)

  (AP/Tony Dejak)
(AP/Tony Dejak)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a potential Republican presidential contender in 2016, has a message for fellow GOPers intent on repealing Obamacare: the Affordable Care Act isn't going away.

In a new Associated Press report on how GOP governors are coming to terms with the health reform law, Kasich said that Obamacare is here to stay even if Republicans retake Senate control next month and add seats to their House majority. Repeal, Kasich told the AP, is "not gonna happen." Given that Senate Democrats would be able to filibuster a repeal measure (unless, like the ACA itself, it's pushed through via the budget reconciliation process) and that President Obama continues to wield a veto pen, that's a pretty obvious point. Far more striking was Kasich's diagnosis of what's behind GOP opposition to the law.

"The opposition to it was really either political or ideological," Kasich said, adding that such arguments against the health law will prove untenable in the face of Obamacare's real-life bemefits.

"I don't think that holds water against real flesh and blood, and real improvements in people's lives," Kasich said.

While public opinion polls continue to show sour attitudes toward Obamacare in the abstract, Kasich's statement underscores how Democratic predictions of what would happen once the law took effect are beginning to play out. Insure millions of new Americans, allow young adults to stay on their parents' health plans until age 26, end discrimination against patients with pre-existing conditions, and before long, people will begin to see, as Kasich put it, "real improvements" in their lives. Repeal will become unthinkable. Indeed, a new Politico poll released this morning shows that the number of midterm battleground-state voters who favor scrapping the health law has dropped to 41 percent. Meanwhile, even Republicans who continue to vow a complete repeal of the law make sure to endorse its most popular provisions. At last week's Kentucky Senate debate, for instance, Mitch McConnell promised to get rid of Obamacare "root and branch," but was quick to say that he was just "fine" with Kynect, the state's popular Obamacare insurance exchange.

Kasich is one of a handful of GOP governors to expand his state's Medicaid program using federal funds provided under the ACA. Polls suggest that the governor is headed toward an easy victory in two weeks over Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald, whose campaign has imploded amid personal scandals. RealClearPolitics' polling average giving Kasich a 22 point lead.

By Luke Brinker

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Affordable Care Act Gop John Kasich Kynect Mitch Mcconnell Obamacare Ohio Republicans