Obamacare seems to be no plus for Kentucky Democrats, perhaps mainly because of the word’s first three syllables

Though the federal health-reform law has helped cover more than half a million Kentuckians and cut the state’s uninsured population by half, “there is little evidence it will help” Kentucky Democrats in the Nov. 4 elections, reports Abby Goodnough of The New York Times, who has been following Obamacare’s implementation in the state.

“The campaign by the Affordable Care Act’s critics against it has been very effective in demonizing the phrase Obamacare and anything to do with the president,” Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear told Goodnough. “So I think you find a reluctance on the part of people, even though the law is benefiting them, to publicly acknowledge it.” Beshear noted that President Obama is highly unpopular in the state, and Goodnough notes that no one applauded during the six minutes that he spoke about the law at the Kentucky Farm Bureau‘s Country Ham Breakfast at the state fair last month.

Interest groups and Republican candidates in Kentucky “have run more than 10,000 broadcast television spots here since January 2013 that mention the law in a negative way, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group,” Goonough reports. “Kantar found only one positive television ad, from Elisabeth Jensen, the Democrat challenging Rep. Andy Barr in the state’s Sixth Congressional District.”

Many Democrats have urged their nominee for the U.S. Senate, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, to use the issue, but “far from flaunting Kentucky’s strong enrollment numbers, Democratic candidates — most notably Ms. Grimes — have remained reticent about the law, even its successes.”

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign hasn’t run any advertising lately about the law, but still calls it the worst legislation in American history and says he wants it repealed “root and branch.” But he has yet to explain, if that unlikely event happened, what would happen to the state exchange where more than 521,000 people got on Medicaid or bought private insurance policies.

Goodnough says McConnell has “hedged” on that, and links to an earlier story by her Times colleague, Jonathan Martin, who wrote: “When I pressed him about the politics of taking away Medicaid from those individuals that now have it, he suggested that was unlikely – even while still faulting Beshear for the decision. ‘I don’t know that it will be taken away from them,’ McConnell said of the expanded Medicaid coverage. Speaking about Beshear and Kentucky’s state government, he added: ‘They’ve made the decision to expand it; they’re gonna have to pay for it.'”

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