|Gov. Beshear Sen. McConnell|
As President Obama prepared to have Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear as his guest at the State of the Union address, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, running for re-election, continued his attack on the health-reform law that Beshear has embraced and has been dubbed with the president’s name.
In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, McConnell said Obama and Beshear “can keep telling Americans to ‘get over it’ if they don’t like this
law, but sooner or later they’re going to have to come to terms with
reality. They’re going to have to accept that Obamacare just hasn’t worked
like the administration promised — in Kentucky, and across America — and
that it’s time to start over with real reform.” McConnell added, “More than a quarter million Kentuckians lost the plans they had and
presumably wanted to keep – despite the president’s promises to the
Beshear expanded the Medicaid program to people with annual incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold, and was the only Southern governor to create a health-insurance exchange where people could buy private insurance or sign up for free Medicaid coverage. He did all that with federal money; the state will begin paying part of the cost of the newly eligible in 2017, reaching the law’s cap of 10 percent in 2020.
“Kentucky has gotten more money to set up its exchange than every state
except California, New York, Oregon and Washington,” McConnell said.
“That’s a lot of money. And they’ve still only enrolled 30 percent of
the people they were supposed to at this point. How is that a success?” State officials say enrollment is picking up, and Beshear “said the rate of sign-ups has validated his decision to have a state-operated exchange,” The Associated Press reports.
The deadline for this year’s coverage is March 31. In his Tuesday night speech, Obama asked “every American who knows someone without health insurance” to help get them enrolled by that date.
Just before that, he said, “If you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who’s here tonight. Now, Kentucky’s not the most liberal part of the country; that’s not where I got my highest vote totals. But he’s like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth’s families.”
Obama quoted lines that Beshear often gives about people who have gone without health insurance: “They are our friends and neighbors. They are people we shop and go to church with; farmers out on the tractors; grocery clerks; they are people who go to work every morning praying they don’t get sick. No one deserves to live that way.” Obama added, “Steve’s right.”