Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Health care in Kentucky is emblematic of disconnects between affordable care, voters, and state governments

Under the previous Democratic Governor, KY established a version of ACA rebranded as Kynect. By all accounts, it is working having brought affordable care to many low-income Kentuckians. Then the voters elected a Teabagger Republican named Matt Bevin who ran a campaign promising to ditch Kynect. The Daily Kos has a summary.

A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 72 percent of all Kentuckians want to keep Medicaid the same, opposing Gov. Matt Bevin’s calls to repeal or change the program in Kentucky. Kentucky is rare among southern states in that leadership under Democratic former Gov. Steve Beshear chose to expand Medicaid to cover low-income healthy adults and run the state health insurance marketplace. The innovative program used re-branding (changing its state marketplace name to Kynect) to market to citizens who demonstrated an aversion to “Obamacare,” but less so to its central policies.

Bevin ran on a platform to dismantle Kynect and roll back the Medicaid expansion and won handily in November’s election. However, his constituents now oppose some of these core policy points. ...

The survey ... shows the general effectiveness of the re-brand, noting disapproval for policies known as “Obamacare” or the “Affordable Care Act” but approval for Kynect and the Medicaid expansion, two policies that are a part of the ACA.

The take home here is murky. Bevin is doing what he pledged to do when he was elected, which is to deny thousands of Kentuckians affordable health care that they are already receiving. But he has already dialed back some plans in the face of opposition, and instead proposed an approach that would likely put more financial risk on the covered low-income adults.

According to the New York Times:

Asked about the poll findings, Jessica Ditto, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bevin, said: “Obamacare is not working in Kentucky, and Governor Bevin is committed to finding a practical and efficient solution that will improve health outcomes. The administration will take deliberate and prudent steps to develop a health care plan that Kentucky can afford.”

"Ditto." Aptly named. Obamacare may not be working, at least according to the GOPropaganda from the Guv's office, but Kynect sure is.

This news is a good sign for ACA proponents in the South and solid evidence that regional marketing can overcome bad publicity about Obamacare and make the program palatable, even to staunch Republican voters. And it turns out that people generally like having affordable health care once they get it.

But they vote for Republican candidates who promise to take affordable care away from them. That's what Dems need to finnesse.

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