(Columbus) - Hundreds of supporters of Medicaid expansion in Ohio rallied at the Ohio Statehouse Tuesday afternoon urging lawmakers to allow it.
Statehouse Republicans are the roadblock, but Republican Gov. John Kasich has championed the effort. Kasich included expansion in his budget, but it was pulled by Republicans in the House. Kasich told those at the rally not to lose hope.
"We are going to get this done. I don't care what it takes, we are going to get this done," Kasich said.
Kasich urged those at the rally to visit their lawmakers and tell their stories. He told them not to be angry or forceful, but don't be shy.
"Make it clear that saying no is not an option," he said.
The Governor said there is a legislative process and he respects that so he's not going to bully lawmakers around.
"If I put people in a corner I'm unlikely to get what I want to help people who need help," he told reporters.
Many Republican opponents worry that accepting the $13 billion from the federal government will just add to the federal government's debt. It's something Kasich doesn't think is enough for him to oppose it.
"Their inability to solve a problem that ultimately will be solved in a responsible way should not prevent Ohio from reclaiming our dollars to deal with our problems. Plain and simple," he said.
Another argument against expansion of Medicaid is that it's a part of President Obama's Affordable Care Act, commonly called 'Obamacare.'
"Medicaid is Medicaid, Obamacare is Obamacare. They're two different things and I don't really see that they're connected," he said.
They are tough words, but Democrats at the Statehouse say those words won't do anything without some action. They're calling on Kasich to use his position to rally some Republicans to support Medicaid expansion.
"It's just frustrating to me to see this kind of activity when to my knowledge there's not been a single phone call or outreach made to any of the lawmakers on his side of the aisle," said House Minority Leader Rep. Tracy Heard, a Columbus Democrat.
Democrats have launched what's called a discharge petition to force the issue to the House floor for a vote. To do it they'd need at least 50 signatures, but so far only have 35 - all Democrats. Heard believes there are enough votes to pass the issue in both the House and Senate, but worries it will never come up for a vote.
Heard also questioned Kasich's sincerity on the issue noting that by simply putting Medicaid expansion into the budget he's won politically.
"He'll forever be able to talk about 'I advocated for Medicaid expansion.' Whether he's sincere or not will be demonstrated in whether or not he goes and finds the Republican votes we need to pass this and not just talk about it," she said.
(Copyright © 2003-2013 Clear Channel. All rights reserved. Photo by Matt Bruning/Clear Channel.)