During a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) tore into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) regarding the success story that the Affordable Care Act has been in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky. Days after it was revealed that the number of people who signed up for private insurance plans on the state and federal exchanges under Obamacare exceeded the administration’s goals, Reid pointed out some basic facts in regards to the health care law’s effect in Kentucky.
During his speech, Reid said the following:
“My counterpart, the senior senator from Kentucky, will address the Senate probably after I finish. In his home state of Kentucky, 360,000 people have signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Three hundred and sixty thousand. Over a quarter million Kentuckians who did not have insurance now have health care under the Affordable Care Act. Or, in other words, Obamacare has reduced the uninsured population in Kentucky by 40 percent. I wonder when my friend from Kentucky will explain to the 270,000 Kentuckians how he plans to repeal the law without stripping their new health benefits.”
Not only was Reid highlighting absolute facts of the law’s effectiveness in the state, he even understated the reduction of uninsured in Kentucky. Previously, there were 640,000 uninsured people in the state. After this first enrollment period, the state’s uninsured population has been reduced by 42%. In the nation as a whole, the uninsured population has been reduced by an estimated 20-25%, which is significant in its own right. However, Kentucky is one state where the law has been a rousing success.
The response from McConnell’s team was laughably bad. Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo highlighted the following tweet made by Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell:
— Stew (@StewSays) April 3, 2014
The link that Stewart provided was to a story by a local Kentucky television channel. The story was written back in November 2013. Early in the story, while it does state that 280,000 Kentuckians would lose their existing insurance plans, it also points out that nearly all of those people were being transitioned into new coverage that was ACA compliant. Nobody was technically losing insurance coverage or becoming uninsured due to the transition of coverage.
Obviously, Stewart, by sending that tweet, was giving the appearance that the ACA had caused 280,000 to lose their insurance altogether in Kentucky. Therefore, even if Obamacare was able to get 270,000 previously uninsured people coverage, the overall effect was still a net negative. Basically, he is being deliberately obtuse for the sake of creating his case that the ACA is actually doing harm in Kentucky and causing more people to be uninsured in the long run.
To summarize, Reid hammered McConnell with some inconvenient truths about the ACA’s effectiveness in Kentucky, where McConnell is seeking reelection in November. In response, McConnell’s spokesman tweeted out a story written five months ago that clearly stated that people weren’t losing insurance coverage because of the ACA. Seriously, is this the best that McConnell and his staff can do? Pointing to a five-month old article that doesn’t even support their argument?