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Kasich Talks Obamacare Reform, Foreign Relations, More in Trump Meeting

Ohio Gov. John Kasich responds to reporters as he arrives at the White House in Washington on Feb. 24, 2017, for a meeting with President Trump. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON — Ohio Gov. John Kasich met with President Trump at the White House today, telling reporters afterward that the commander in chief “listened (to) and acknowledged” the governor’s points on issues ranging from Medicaid to European relations.

“We talked about the whole range of issues, including the high cost of pharmaceuticals contained in the Medicaid plan, which is very interesting. I made my suggestions about what we should do in regard to those rising costs,” Kasich said. “I told the president that having been at the Munich Security Conference that is really — it’s very important for the administration to speak with one voice. He listened and acknowledged it; I think was somewhat taken aback that even though he had the vice president and the general over there, that sometimes people want to hear from him — and he listened to that.”

The administration sent Vice President Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis to last weekend’s Munich Security Conference, where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also spoke.

“We — I also talked a little bit about the issue of the problem of the digital changes in our economy and how it can leave people behind who frankly don’t have the skills to take the next set of jobs,” Kasich continued. “I think that will be for a discussion a little later on.”

The governor will be meeting with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price while in town to discuss his ideas for changing Obamacare to “reform it, save money and make sure that people aren’t left behind.”

“We should take Medicaid expansion from 138 down to 100, move people between 138 and 100 over on the exchange, stabilize that marketplace, provide some flexibility in the area of that health package, that the federal government ought to get its nose out of the business where they’ve created disruptions and we need to deal with the problem of the pharmaceutical industry and their high costs,” he argued.

Kasich said he “kind of covered everything like two or three times because different people kept coming in the room” throughout the meeting. “I at one point made it clear that I have been the guy — I said look, I don’t care what the Republicans do on this. If they do something that I think is wrong, I’m gonna speak out.”

“And they said they noticed that, and you know, nothing’s gonna change and I’m glad that I came. The president was very generous with his time and he listened a great deal to my concerns. We also talked about the problem of drug abuse, we talked about the problem of human trafficking,” he added. “We covered a whole series of things in there and we just moved forward.”

Past mutual criticisms weren’t brought up in the meeting, Kasich said. “It’s sort of like being on an airplane; you want to root for the pilot if you’re on the airplane with the pilot. I mean, you don’t want the pilot to screw up,” he said. “…I can have my opinions, but now it’s time to be constructive. And sometimes, being constructive is to not be positive, you know, to make your point.”

“That doesn’t mean that when I wish him the best, there might be things that I see that I don’t agree with and I’m going to say that.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters before the meeting that the sit-down was arranged because “they wanted to get together after the election and catch up, and discuss sort of the issues and agenda that the president is implementing.”