Biden touts American Rescue Plan, Affordable Care Act at The Ohio State University

President Joe Biden speaks Tuesday, March 23, 2021, after a tour of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. 

(The Center Square) – As President Joe Biden made his first visit to Ohio since taking office Tuesday, he was criticized for what one policy group called unnecessary spending. 

Biden, in Columbus to tout his administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the recently passed American Rescue Plan, visited the James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University late Tuesday afternoon.

“There are three key parts in the ARP. First, we are going to more rapidly acquire enough vaccinations to vaccinate every American more quickly than anticipated. There is a second important piece of that plan. It brings relief to a population that is badly hurting,” said Biden, who also said it’s Americans’ patriotic duty to be vaccinated for COVID-19. “Third, and foremost, it’s going to give every American $1,400. We also expanded the child care tax credit. This is going to be life changing. It’s going to do more to end childhood poverty than anything we’ve ever done.”

Columbus-based education and research group The Buckeye Institute, however, challenged the recent recovery bill, along with the returned emphasis to federal health care options.

“Today, President Joe Biden comes to Ohio to tout not just the latest unnecessary spending bill – the American Rescue Plan – but also the Affordable Care Act, two one-size-fits-all solutions that fail to address the states’ unique challenges and needs,” said Rea S. Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center and vice president of policy at The Buckeye Institute. “These one-size-fits-all solutions will only lead to higher taxes and fewer health care options for Ohioans. This is not the prescription Ohio needs to fight the pandemic.”

Biden’s visit to The James was meant to highlight the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act and health care support in the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill passed mostly along party lines earlier this month. The American Rescue Plan includes expanded subsidies White House officials said guarantees families will not spend more than 8.5% of their income toward health insurance premiums. It also includes support for state and local governments as vaccinations continue.

The James received a $100 million grant 11 years ago through the ACA to expand cancer facilities, along with research and development.

“This place is a source of hope. When I ran, I said I wanted to be the president who presided over the end of cancer as we know it. It’s within our reach. America does big things,” Biden said.

Biden said the American Rescue Plan expands the ACA and makes health care more affordable, covering COBRA payments for those out of work and other options with free premiums on the marketplace.

“Four out of five Americans who shop for plans will find one for less than $10 a month,” Biden said. “With the American Rescue Plan and the Affordable Care Act, millions of families will be able to sleep a little better at night knowing they won’t lose everything if they get sick. Health care is a right, not a privilege in this country.”

Hederman said the plan inhibits Ohio from eliminating potential fraud but creates barriers to moving from government health care help to benefits from employers.

“Not only does the American Rescue Plan Act send unnecessary money to the states, it increases funding for Medicaid while blocking Ohio’s ability to ensure that benefits only go to the needy and deserving and not those who are ineligible,” Hederman said. “The result here will also harm Ohioans by increasing costs for Medicaid to unsustainable levels and discouraging work, which will make it harder for Medicaid enrollees to re-enter the workforce and transition to private business.”

Biden also received criticism from Ohio Republicans for the visit while issues are ongoing along the country’s southern border.

“There is a crisis at our Southern border – today is not the day for a PR tour to spike the football on a $1.9 trillion ‘relief’ bill that does next to nothing to combat COVID-19,” Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Paduchik said in a statement.