McConnell: ‘If the goal was to expand Medicaid, that could have been done alone.’ But he won’t say what’s next for it

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U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell “has a particularly thorny road” in guiding Republicans’ repeal and replacement of Obamacare because of the program’s success in Kentucky, David Lightman of McClatchy Newspapers writes after a 20-minute interview with the Senate majority leader.

But McConnell challenged Lightman’s premise. Asked why “he would want to undo a successful program,” as Lightman put it, McConnell replied, “It depends on how you define success,” and noted “higher premiums and co-payments and higher deductibles and chaos in the private health-insurance market.”

McConnell added, “If the goal was to expand Medicaid, that could have been done alone. . . . This overreach tried to turn the private health insurance market into a regulated utility.”

McConnell has declined to reveal his plans generally for health-care legislation or specifically for Medicaid, the expansion of which in Kentucky has added 440,000 people to the program and cut by more than half the number of Kentuckians without health coverage. He “will have lots more to say about this issue in the coming weeks,” McConnell spokesman Robert Steurer said Jan. 10.

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