Several hundred, including Sens. McConnell and Paul, attend tea-party rally to express displeasure about health reform law

By Tara Kaprowy
Kentucky Health News

Hundreds of tea-party activists showed up at a midday rally at the state Capitol to protest the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Kentucky’s involvement in its implementation. Both are issues in the Nov. 6 elections. (Photo by Pablo Alcala, Lexington Herald-Leader)

In a rare appearance at a tea-party event, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell encouraging those in the crowd “to make Barack Obama a one-term president.”

Sen. Rand Paul, who was elected in large measure on his tea-party identity, repeated his riposte to the 5-4 court decision upholding the law: “Just because a couple of people on the Supreme Court declares something to be ‘constitutional’ does not make it so,” he said. “I still think the whole damn thing is unconstitutional.”

Scott Wartman of The Cincinnati Enquirer estimated that 300 to  500 people attended the event, which was organized by the Louisville Tea Party. Some who attended came in support of the health care law and carried placards expressing their sentiments. “The rally also drew dozens of counter-protesters who favor Obama and the health care act,” Jack Brammer reported for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

One reason for the rally was to influence legislators to fight the implementation of the state health insurance exchange that Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has created under the law. Before the rally, the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions encouraged participants to ask their legislators what will happen to cost of the state-run health exchange if a huge number of Kentucky players decide not to offer health insurance to their employees.

The Bowling Green-based group also questioned the cost of expanding the Medicaid program to 138 percent the federal poverty level, which is up to individual states under the Supreme Court decision.

McConnell called the law the worst piece in modern times and the “single biggest step in the direction of Europeanizing America, because if the government ever gets its clutches on all the health care of all 306 million Americans, which it will have if Obamacare stands, the government controls the most important concern all of us in the end have — our own health and the health of our family handed over to a centralized government.”

McConnell said repealing the law would be top on the agenda if Republicans win a majority of the U.S. Senate in November. But as he alluded earlier, Obama would need to be defeated to prevent a presidential veto of repeal legislation.

Debra Harper of Louisville told the Herald-Leader she suffered a mild stroke last February due to a congenital heart problem, and welcomes the law. “Our president finally gave this nation a blueprint for health care,”
she said. “It’s like a blueprint for a house. There may be some changes
you want in it, but it’s a sound structure, and people who want to
discard all of it are being cruel.”

Kentucky Health News is a service of the University of Kentucky’s Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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