Love Obamacare, hate Obama: Kentucky story fits in Arkansas | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Love Obamacare, hate Obama: Kentucky story fits in Arkansas

Posted By on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 6:38 AM

click to enlarge OBAMACARE, YES: The president and other Democratic politicians? Maybe not.
  • OBAMACARE, YES: The president and other Democratic politicians? Maybe not.
Sadly, this New York Times story about Kentucky probably could be done interchangeably in Arkansas.

Kentucky is one of the leading success stories of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Only Arkansas has had a sharper decline in uninsured people.

So what?

…. there is little evidence that the expansion of health coverage will help Kentucky Democrats in this fall’s midterm elections. Republicans hold all of the state’s congressional seats except for one, in a district centered in Louisville, and none are considered vulnerable this year. Republicans, who already control the State Senate, have a chance of taking the State House of Representatives, where Democrats hold an eight-seat majority. And several recent polls have put Mr. McConnell ahead of his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, even though his approval ratings are tepid.

Mr. McConnell and other Republicans here, while more focused on other issues, like protecting Kentucky’s coal industry, continue to attack the health law as a symbol of government overreach and Democratic bungling. And far from flaunting Kentucky’s strong enrollment numbers, Democratic candidates — most notably Ms. Grimes — have remained reticent about the law, even its successes.

In many ways, the role that the law is playing in Kentucky politics reflects what is going on nationally as the midterm elections approach. The law remains deeply unpopular among Republicans and independents, and Republican candidates still use it to flog their Democratic opponents, although not as single-mindedly as before. That is partly because voters are more focused on other issues: A recent George Washington University Battleground Poll found that among likely voters who think the country is on the wrong track, only 5 percent blamed “issues with Obamacare.” More pointed to concerns about the economy, foreign policy, President Obama and Congress.

Sound familiar? The following, too, should sound familiar because we've seen and heard it in Arkansas from previously uninsured voters. The Times quotes Robin Evans, a $9-an-hour warehouse worker newly covered by insurance for a range of health problems.

“I’m tickled to death with it,” Ms. Evans, 49, said of her new coverage as she walked around the Kentucky State Fair recently with her daughter, who also qualified for Medicaid under the law. “It’s helped me out a bunch.”

But Ms. Evans scowled at the mention of President Obama — “Nobody don’t care for nobody no more, and I think he’s got a lot to do with that,” she explained — and said she would vote this fall for Senator Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican and minority leader, who is fond of saying the health care law should be “pulled out root and branch.”

All this, of course, is why Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson is carefully straddling Obamacare. Oh, he's against Obamacare all right. But he sees the "Private Option" version as the law of the land, if in need of some fine-tuning. It won't be so well-tuned should he be elected that the state would lose the tens of millions it's bringing to bail out the state budget. That would make governing difficult.

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