This past weekend we broke the story of John Kasich’s questionable appointment of Richard Hodges as director of the Ohio Department of Health. By Ohio law, the position requires the appointee be a medical doctor, or at least have “significant experience in the public health profession.” Hodges has neither, though he did update his LinkedIn page to include additional, dubious healthcare-related “experience” after our story was published. We can only assume he stayed at a Holiday Inn Express the night before.
While Hodges résumé does not include any experience qualifying him to serve as the health department director, it does contain enough experience to qualify him for an appointment to any position in state government by John Kasich: he was given the “Friend of Life Award” by United Conservatives of Ohio. No surprise here. Kasich has a history of appointing anti-abortion activists to positions of power where they can impact abortion politics in Ohio. (See Gonidakis et al)
Meanwhile, Kasich and Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly are preparing to take control of another important state agency in order to appoint another anti-choice political operative as its director…
On June 3rd, 2014, Republican State Representative Anne Gonzales added an amendment to SB230 on the floor of the Ohio House. The bill started out as a well-meaning, bipartisan attempt to expand opportunities for the delivery of cancer drugs, but ended up turning into a tool for the Kasich administration to deliver their anti-choice agenda to unsuspecting Ohioans. The Gonzales amendment removed the requirement that the director of the state board of pharmacy be a “a licensed pharmacist in good standing in the practice of pharmacy in this state.”
State Senator Lynn Wachtman specifically asked to be excused from voting on the amended bill, claiming “it might be construed that I have an interest in the legislation.” Wachtmann, an ALEC member, drunken boater and Ohio Right To Life “Defender of Life Award” winner, is term limited and will be unable to run for office after December 2014. We assume Kasich is preparing to appoint him head up the state pharmacy board.
Ohio Senate President Keith Faber will ultimately be responsible for making sure the Wachtmann appointment gets approved by the Ohio Senate. Faber is quite familiar with the anti-choice agenda. During the 126th General Assembly, then-State Rep Faber introduced HB 469 to the Ohio House of Representatives. The bill that would have allowed pharmacists in Ohio to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception drugs and other forms of birth control that he claimed to believe, truthfully or not, caused abortions.
“The people in charge of whether the health care services we seek from doctors, pharmacists, long term care facilities and surgical centers should be experts in the fields that they are overseeing,” said Jaime Miracle, Policy Director for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, when we brought this information to her attention. “By placing political operatives in these roles instead of medical experts, the Kasich administration continues to show that the Governor is more concerned with politics than the health and well-being of Ohioans.”
We couldn’t agree more.