Tea Party to target hospital executive pay in Medicaid battle

(Columbus) - Tea Party activists in Ohio want to use a unique weapon to fight continued efforts to expand Medicaid: the Internal Revenue Service.

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

"We've asked our members to go online and look at the 990 forms that the hospitals filled out and look at the executive compensation," Zawsistowski said.

He calls it "hilarious" that Tea Party groups that came under extra scrutiny by the IRS are now using an IRS law to target others.

"I think it will be fun to see how they feel to be on the other end of these type of letters," he said.

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

"Seems rather disingenuous for some of these people that are making $2 million a year to be on our TVs crying 'poverty' and asking the citizens to come up with $13 billion more dollars to expand Medicaid," he said.

Zawistowski blasted supporters of Medicaid expansion like Republican Gov. John Kasich for thinking the $13 billion in federal funds is like "free money."

"They've claimed that if we don't take it somebody else will. That's just not the case," Zawistowski said.

He hopes to have more information about their project to release in a couple of weeks.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story)

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