Tea Partier Scott Allegrini and statehouse incumbent Barbara Sears took turns arguing their stances on issues such as the Medicaid expansion and Common Core to a Republican group meeting near Waterville on Thursday night.
In the joint appearance, the two Republican candidates for the 47th House seat differed on the expansion of the state health-care program for poor people, as well as on educational standards.
About two dozen spectators and other candidates were present at the forum sponsored by the Fallen Timbers Republican Club at Browning of Heartland senior living complex.
Mr. Allegrini panned the expansion of Medicaid as a key element of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. The expansion, pushed through by Gov. John Kasich over the objections of conservatives in the General Assembly, is largely funded by the federal government.
“Without Obamacare there’s no funding for this Medicaid expansion. They are intertwined,” said Mr. Allegrini of Sylvania, a Walmart manager. “By implementing that part of Obamacare we are making more people dependent on government.”
He said Medicaid ranks low among insurance programs in the world for its outcomes and said, “coverage does not equal care.”
“It was not the moral choice,” he said, referring to a comment made by Mr. Kasich about the Medicaid expansion. “It’s the easy choice.”
Ms. Sears, an insurance agent from Monclova Township who is seeking her fourth and last allowable consecutive term, said the expansion makes fiscal sense for Ohio.
In Ohio, according to Ms. Sears, the federal program is largely privatized, with 80 percent of Medicaid recipients getting care through private plans, such as Paramount and others.
“Ohio is recognized nationally for how we have privatized,” she said.
She said the state’s oversight has kept annual increases to under 3 percent. “When you look at the studies, they prove that what we are doing in Ohio is right.”
As a matter of state policy, she said it makes no sense to hold someone back because they need health care and that a healthy population is better able to thrive and hold jobs.
Mr. Allegrini attacked the educational standards known as Common Core. Founder of the Tea Party organization Children of Liberty, with his wife, Anna, he said the Medicaid expansion and Common Core are his major issues.
Common Core, he said, imposes restrictions on teachers and students and continues the march toward standards that he said have not improved education since the first statewide standards were introduced in Ohio in 1997.
Ms. Sears said Common Core standards have been adopted in Ohio for math and English but are voluntary for school boards.
“Everyone wants a measurement tool. It’s just a very tough question,” Ms. Sears said, without explicitly endorsing or condemning the standards.
Both said they would oppose legislative efforts to legalize gay marriage.
The two are on the ballot May 6 for the House district that includes most of western Lucas County and most of Fulton County.
No Democrat filed for the seat.