The conservative Matt Bevin voters aren’t going to like this one. It seems Obamacare’s most devoted troll, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, would support funding the expansion of Medicaid but somehow without Obamacare. This is his new position now that he’s facing a tough Democratic opponent in Alison Lundergan Grimes and the people in his state love their Kynect (Obamacare).
So dies the liberty of being uninsured for the GOP.
With about ten percent of Kentuckians receiving health insurance precisely because of Obamacare (even though they might not know this), Mitch McConnell was in a pickle as he carried forth with his party’s big plans for winning the Senate by promising to take that insurance away from Americans.
So the Republican Senator did what any good politician would do – he lied. On May 23, he told the people of Kentucky that Kynect (Kynect is the Kentucky version of the ACA exchange/Obamacare) had nothing to do with his promises to repeal Obamacare. This, of course, is patently untrue. I wrote at the time that it was worse than Mitt Romney’s Jeep lie, which got massive play in the press, but then, attack a corporation and the media is outraged. Lie to the people about their life/death/health, and meh. Not so much.
This morning, we have clarification from Mitch McConnell from the Washington Post‘s fact checker, Glenn Kessler, per McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton.
The Fact Checker, like most Kentuckians probably, wanted to know what would happen to those 300,000 Kentuckians that got insurance through Kynect if the ACA was repealed, “Reading between the lines, it appeared that McConnell was saying he would support the funding for the expansion of Medicaid even if Obamacare is repealed, and we asked if that was correct.”
Team Mitch took refuge in Medicaid having existed before Obamacare, and then pretended like it would be great to repeal the insurance part of Obamacare so then Kentuckians could go back to their better policies. But Kessler pointed out, “Note: Kentucky officials have indicated about 75 percent of the newly insured in both Medicaid and the exchange did not previously have insurance.”
In order to appease the voters in his state who want to keep their insurance and Medicaid per Obamacare, Team Mitch tried to make it sound like since the taxpayers pay for it anyway, it’s going to be in place either way. But Kessler isn’t buying that the exchange would survive without Obamacare.
The Bottom Line, per Kessler:
The Bottom Line
McConnell appears to have accepted the Medicaid expansion that has been so embraced by his state’s residents, while drawing a distinction with the Obamacare health plans sold on the statewide exchange. Given that three out of four of the newly insured in Kentucky ended up on Medicaid, that probably makes political sense—and also is newsworthy.
But the history of individual state exchanges shows it is not credible for McConnell to suggest that the state exchange would survive without the broad health-care system constructed by the Affordable Care Act, such as an individual mandate and subsidies to buy insurance. Given the popularity of the state exchange, McConnell appears to want to offer out hope it would continue even in the unlikely case the law was actually repealed. That’s likely not a tenable position, and we will pay close attention to McConnell’s phrasing on this issue in the future. The senator is clearly trying to straddle a political fence; when doing so, it’s easy to lose your balance.
Team Mitch tried to dodge the connection to Obamacare, petulantly saying Medicaid existed before Obamacare. This is just bunk, because Obamacare expanded Medicaid.
Obamacare is like most legislation in that it contains many sections that are interdependent. The plan was that poor folks would be on Medicaid while others who met federal poverty level would get subsidies. The expansion of Medicaid increased eligibility levels to 138% of the Federal Poverty Line ($23,550 for a family of four). Medicaid, in this situation, helps the working poor.
Furthermore, it was conservatives (like the National Federation of Independent Business, a conservative lobbying organization, which claims to be nonpartisan but donates mostly to Republicans and has a PAC called Save America’s Free Enterprise Trust) who fought Obamacare in the Supreme Court, where it was found Constitutional, but the Medicaid expansion ruled to be optional. States opting out of the expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare are driving up insurance costs. This isn’t some big cost saving measure as states and taxpayers will pay for those who fall through the “Medicaid gap”. Lose, lose, lose.
McConnell’s new position is really disingenuous, on top of being a bad dodge.
Mitch McConnell has accepted the Medicaid expansion but is still trying to sell it as unrelated to Obamacare, because Medicaid predates Obamacare. The kicker is that the Medicaid expansion did not predate Obamacare, and Kynect is made possible through grants from Obamacare.
To sum up, one of Obamacare’s biggest trolls is now saying yeah, the people who vote for me like it (who knew!) so we’ll keep it but only under the guise of repealing it (aka, kicking everyone else off of their insurance), because the rest of it still sucks, so there! To simplify matters, just ask yourself what position would help the people and hurt big business. That will be the opposite of Mitch McConnell’s stance, until he’s called out. Then he’ll do a fancy two step until prying eyes get distracted,
Update: According to an email McConnell’s campaign sent out to supporters, the Senator is against every single part of Obamacare now.
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