Ohio tea party to use IRS to fight Medicaid

Tea party activists in Ohio reportedly want to turn an enemy — the Internal Revenue Service — into an ally as they fight continued efforts to expand Medicaid.
Associated Press
Jul 2, 2013


In a confidential email sent to fellow Ohio tea party leaders and obtained by The Associated Press, Tom Zawistowski laid out a strategy for invoking a little-known IRS provision that allows citizens to challenge executive salaries and the nonprofit statuses of charitable hospitals.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Zawistowski called it "hilarious" that tea party groups that came under extra scrutiny by the IRS are now using an IRS law to target others.

Zawistowski identifies the hospitals as big backers of expanded Medicaid. His email said tea party groups will "make Medicaid personal" by publicizing large salaries of those seeking federal money to help the poor.

"I think it's hilarious, and I think it'll be fun to get some other groups who have maybe been on the sidelines and questioning us to see how they like being investigated," he said.

The effort follows a Sunday veto by Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich of a provision in the state budget that would have blocked his administration from expanding Medicaid to additional low-income residents.

In a news conference ahead of that veto, Kasich and Republican House Speaker William Batchelder, whose chamber backed the vetoed roadblock, said they hoped to settle differences on a broader Medicaid expansion by year's end.

"The goal is to change the narrative," Zawistowski wrote. Rather than have people wondering why tea party groups don't want to help the poor, they should wonder why hospitals need more federal tax dollars to care for the poor when they've got plenty of cash on hand, he wrote.

Not-for-profit hospitals are under constant IRS scrutiny and do not fear the effort, said Ohio Hospital Association spokesman Scott Borgemenke.

"For years and years, the law hasn't changed and the status hasn't changed," he said. "We continue to be within federal law. From that standpoint, we're not worried our status is in jeopardy at all."

Zawistowski recognized the irony even in the email. Tea party groups have blasted the IRS, complained to Congress, rallied and sued over the agency's targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. Multiple investigations into the practice are causing a political firestorm in Washington.

"I think you are going to love this," Zawistowski told tea party leaders in his email.

Zawistowski said by phone that Kasich has "hauled out" hospital CEOs at pro-Medicaid rallies that are making millions of dollars. In his emails, he singles out the $2.5 million salary of Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, whose nonprofit hospital had more than $9 billion in assets in 2011.

"This guy's making $2 million a year, pleading poverty to help poor people," he said. "It just seems a little disingenuous to us in the tea party who volunteer for nothing. We're curious to see their definition of poverty."

Borgemenke said hospital CEOs' salaries are decided by community boards, which weigh the performance of the institutions, look at similarly situated businesses, and sometimes run nationwide searches.

"The old axiom is the hunted become the huntees, right?" he said. "We've got billions of dollars of uncompensated care" that isn't covered by Medicaid reimbursement. He said hospitals even sustained a $500 million cut in this year's budget.

Roughly 366,000 Ohioans would eligible for coverage beginning in 2014 if the state expands Medicaid, a key component of Democratic President Barack Obama's federal health care law.

Kasich's push to take advantage of the law was among reasons Zawistowski, executive director of the Portage County TEA Party, tried in April to take over the Ohio Republican Party. His bid against a Kasich-backed candidate was unsuccessful — but Zawistowski and his backers vowed to continue their fight.

Kasich opposed the federal health care overhaul, but has said expanding Medicaid is the best way to make sure Ohio gets back federal tax dollars to help the needy.



The Big Dog's back

Such a hateful group.

Licorice Schtick

Yes. And the irony is that they're attacking non-profit hospitals that exist for the public interest, while leaving for-profit hospitals alone. This is just another part of the right wing agenda to further rearrange the country to benefit only the wealthy and powerful. See what's happening here? The Tea Party is just a bunch of dupes whose strings are pulled by greedy selfish oligarchs in their class war against The People.


We know many entertaining comments soon to follow here.



Darwin's choice

" a mission to deny healthcare to children and the poor" How do you get that out the above story?

The Big Dog's back

durwood, try something new, like actually reading a story.

Darwin's choice

That is a striking photo of you in the other thread!


- Darwin's reject
I've got a photo of you too...


The Big Dog's back

I've never accused a right winger of knowing how to read.

Darwin's choice

Read this, failure again for Obama.....



Perhaps the money that was donated to President Obama's Brother's nonprofit organization would help alleviate at least some of the problems of availability of healthcare for our children and our poor? Like maybe giving it to the Shriners.

And I'm sure that had the Tea Party had as easy a time with the IRS as Mr. Obama did with setting up his nonprofit there wouldn't be so much animosity. You know if the IRS had said to them, "Sure! Here ya go! And so you don't have any problems with the money you already collected, we'll back date this application 2 years."


It's quite a the opposite. They are showing that the fat cat ceo's are cutting into the pool that could HELP those children. You have to read all the lines, not just every other.

Darwin's choice

Don't try to make a point to the resident poster-troll, he licks his hind so much, he has to guzzle the kool-aid.

You're exactly correct, these CEO's are a farce. Look at any of the major charity groups, all actually pay only pennies on the dollar from what they take in, "handling" costs are incredible!


@ YoMamma

4-wheeler al

all the people who want health care out are the ones making millions.two years ago doctors across the us collected over 50 mill.paid to lobbyist too fight health care.were the only industrial nation that dont have ahealth care in the world.you paid on how much money annual you make for your health care.this country needs health care.retirement and welware all ready has health care. what about the workers making 8 9 10 dollars an hour paying rent,elec,water and 800 dollars a month for family health care.


As FA Hayek so brilliantly illustrated in the "Road to Serfdom":

Those who set up bureaucratic systems to help consolidate their power and benefit their constituency, eventually have those rules and regulations used against them by opposing factions.


Just have the Federal Reserve continue to "print" trillions of dollars for use as govt. transfer of payments, until the U.S. becomes a socialist paradise where no one works and everything is FREE.


I'm all for a national health care program, but not this one.
While the vision is good, the scope is unrealistic and there's no way our bureaucracy can manage it. The greatest vision for anything is worthless if it cannot be executed


Re: "I'm all for a national health care program,"

With tens of trillions dollars worth of potential unfunded liabilities, the growing medical problems of the 78 million boomers ALONE will bankrupt this country.

I once heard the Pres. of Cleveland Clinic say that 70% of illness in the U.S. is caused by three things:

Lack of exercise.

Also, the chronically ill 5% of the population account for 50% of health care spending.

Working on the funding and benefit structures alone will have little affect on the major drivers of health care expenditures.

Read some of the work of Ken Dychtwald:



Your points are valid, but those challenges exist regardless of private vs national health care.
Current day regulations for private insurance and Medicare are so convoluted and influenced by lobbyist they probably cannot be fixed. There's no way the money grabbers would allow it and our lawmakers are either too weak or too corrupt to right the ship
Just like our founding fathers debated whether or not the banking system should be nationalized, the health care industry follows suite. Mans greed will prevail until the money runs out
IMO a sound national program is our only hope and it would be more painful than most people would be willing to accept. That's why previous proposals have never gotten out of the starting blocks


Re: "a sound national program,"

Ain't no such animal possible.

The financials are against it and central planners tend to work on the wrong end of the problem.

Long-term health care is a WHOLE other ball of wax.

Currently, approx. 90 plus percent of nursing homes residents' care is being funded by Medicaid.

Costs are currently about $80K annually. Add those 78M boomers to the mix once again.

Transfer of payments for publically provided health and welfare benefits will eventually bankrupt this country - we can't tax, print, borrow and spend our way out of it.


I'm referring to a national program, not a national benefit. Under a program, the lawmakers would be charged with defining the policy and then governing it. The trick is to get government to govern, nothing more, nothing less. That means they do not own, operate or manage the program. The program ownership belongs to corporations. They are the ones who know how to manage and operate a product

Business is business, government is government.... Both need to get out of each others sandbox. Short of that, everything else is another layer of bandaids that will eventually fall off and expose the real wounds.


Re: "I'm referring to a national program, not a national benefit."

And you don't believe that the U.S. is headed for a single payer on it's way to national health care?

Govt. can’t spend a dollar that it doesn’t get from somewhere else.

Medicare is currently the largest payer of health care.

Waste, fraud and abuse is rampant - add ObamaCare and KA-BOOM!!!

IMO, only with the advent of a fiscal collapse can the U.S. get back to a free mkt. arrangement in health care and elsewhere.


Funny thing is, most of the radical tea party supporters I know are already medicaid recipients.... or the the type that yell "keep your government hands off my medicare". Unreal, simply unreal.


I agree. They are a people who don't seem to notice obvious contradictions in themselves. Most of the people I see who have Tea Party bumper stickers are quite obviously NOT well off financially (if 30-year-old rusted out vehicles are any indication). Yet they haven't quite figured out that the party who actually tries to help the middle/lower class are Democrats. They continue to vote Republican - even as the GOP on the state and national level continue to enact funding that hurts the middle/lower classes and favors the rich. Case in point: Kasich's new budget will save the bottom 5% of Ohioans $12 per year, while the top 1% will save $6000. Funny how you don't hear them complaining about that....

The real problem is that they are getting all of their information from one source, Fox, where opinion masquerades as news. I would say the same of anyone who only watches MSNBC. Both networks are very divisive. Fox is obviously the GOP wing of the media, and MSNBC is obviously the Democratic wing. Both are only persuasive to those people who aren't interested in hearing anything that might challenge their preconceived view, and neither network reports much of anything that might be damaging to their own 'brand' of politics.

I would hope that a majority of people realize that Fox/MSNBC are not presenting anything close to unbiased news. It does become a problem when people accept their obviously biased "reporting" as fact. Hint: if you think everything is a government-induced conspiracy, you really need to get a life...


I try to watch Fox and MSNBC just to get both sides. Faux news is more about bashing anything they do not agree with as opposed to being unbiased. Hannity and O'Reilly seem to be more opinionated than factual. MSNBC is more factual than opinionated in my opinion. I listen and decide for myself.


I agree with your observations.
I try to listen to FOX, but it's all bashing.

This is a fact: the Republicans HATED Obama BEFORE he even swore into office.
How " fair and balanced" is that?

Darwin's choice

"you really need to get a life" words of wisdom from the biggest koolaid drinking, party line following, obamabot on here!


Re: "if you think everything is a government-induced conspiracy, you really need to get a life..."

This hip deep level of caca reminds me:

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." - Robt. Hanlon

The DC bureaucracy more than adequately explains the Peter Principle.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights) and Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.


It's been estimated that due to waste, fraud and abuse, Medicaid and Medicare lose approx. $100B annually.

The govt. pays the bills and then practices what's known as: Pay and chase.

If 21-25% of ObamaCare is also subject to waste, fraud and abuse like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the U.S. could be looking at upwards to $250B annual loses on uninsured tax credits on a projected $1T in federal, state and local spending.

So why AGAIN are the ObamaCare employer health insurance mandates being put off until 2015?

This bureaucratic boondoggle with the aid and assistance of the IRS will crash, burn and die and help take our economy with it.


Pterocarya frax...

"It's been estimated that due to waste, fraud and abuse, Medicaid and Medicare lose approx. $100B annually."

Estimated by whom? My estimates are much lower and improving annually. How much waste, fraud and abuse happens in private insurance? You never mention that.

Did you even read the link you posted? Even conservative "scholars" praise the EITC for it's effectiveness. So you are squawking about $12 billion in tax refunds to poor people, but not about the $92 billion in corporate welfare every year? Your priorities are seriously whacked.


Re: My estimates are much lower and improving annually."

And where and what are they?

Feel free to do a Google search of: "Waste, fraud and abuse Medicare"

Private ins. and corp. welfare - off-topic.

Keep the rose-colored glasses firmly affixed to your eyes.

Pterocarya frax...

My estimates are my estimates....and they are just as valid as the numbers you posted, since you provided no references to back up your numbers.

My comments on private insurance fraud and corporate welfare are just as on topic as your ramblings about EITC. Talk about rose colored glasses........

JudgeMeNot's picture

Contango, You have much wisdom.


Re: "MSNBC is more factual than opinionated in my opinion."

Are you sure that you've got your hearing aids turned on?

NYT and even MSNBC disagree: More opinion, less fact.

"Devoted to Politics, MSNBC Slips on Breaking News":



"Here Are Winners and Losers in Obamacare Delay":

"Giving businesses more time to deal with Obamacare mandates stunned the health industry Wednesday. Whether this is a precursor of things to come will determine how deeply the shock will penetrate."


The U.S. economy is already very fragile and the ObamaNazis are only helping to create more uncertainty.

The Mkt. HATES uncertainty.


Giving businesses more time to deal with Obamacare mandates

It really means we don't have processes and procedures figured out for this mammoth beast. Heck, we haven't even finished interpreting what we wrote

Darwin's choice

"We have to pass it to find out whats in it" From the queen of democrats!!

JudgeMeNot's picture

It just gives us another year or two of uncertainty, slow hiring and a slower economy.

The Big Dog's back

Gee, you mean we might delay to make sure all our ducks are in a row? What a novel idea.


Meomix you are right. We can only hope they are all eunuchs like Heaven's Gate.


Nigel Farage MEP:

Can we find a U.S. birth certificate for this guy?



"As much as $100 billion may be lost to Medicare and Medicaid waste, fraud, and abuse each year."


"The IRS estimates that at least 21 percent of its EITC payments in 2012 were faulty."


"The subsidy that Obamacare offers, given in the form of a tax credit, is meant to offset insurance costs to limit the percentage of income spent on insurance premiums."



So the lawless ObamaNazis announce the delay of the ACA employer mandate in a (bleeping) BLOG POST???

Love the title too:

"Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner"


Yeah, like it was also originally legislated in a "careful, thoughtful manner." :)

Nice of 'em to spew this caca out just before the July 4th holiday - maybe no one would notice?

Shouldn't the Clown-in-Chief have make this announcement from his trusty ol' teleprompter?

Remember: The narcissist loves the name "Obamacare."


The Big Dog's back

Man-crush ehh pooh.