Last week I announced that I've started writing occasional pieces for HealthInsurance.org. Today they've published my 2nd entry, which is all about Kentucky, Mitch McConnell and the real-world impact on hundreds of thousands of people that repealing the ACA would have.
UPDATE:In my story, I noted that the Federal Government is picking up 100% of the tab for the expanded Medicaid enrollees for the first 3 years, and then thought that it dropped down to 90% for another 6 years, and then to the normal fed/state split after that (70/30 in the case of Kentucky).
Thanks to David M. for bringing to my attention this correction: The expansion program is an even better deal for the states than I thought, because apparently the Federal share only drops to 90% permanently (well, unless a future Congress messes around with that provision of the ACA, of course).
In response to that, another Kentucky resident responded with a different perspective. Again, aside from cleaning up some typos and breaking it into more paragraphs for easier readability, I'm presenting it verbatim:
Mr. Gaba, I am also from Kentucky. I appeciate your fact checking of McConnell on the ACA and in most instances I would say that you are correct and he is not.
That said, I work in health care and we have also seen a boon in our bottom line due to decreased uncompensated care and bad debts. We are also in a poor county and almost 80% of the people were Medicaid recipients including some of my family members, so the ACA, at least in the short term has benefited us.
Just received the following email from a Kentucky resident. With his permission, I'm leaving out his name but am presenting it verbatim otherwise, with no further comment:
Thanks for discrediting good ol' Mitch. What a joke. I am a resident of Kentucky and here's how the ACA impacts my family with other opinions included for good measure.
We have read and heard the partisan battle waged for and against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Much has been written and said, but I live it. I experience it. But to truly evaluate it requires good old-fashioned common sense. For some reason, this has gone the way of bipartisan politics.
Since I am a consultant paid on a per hour basis, I do not receive nor do I expect to receive health benefits through my employer. We purchased our health plan through the Kentucky Health Exchange – KYNECT: a marketplace to purchase health plans created via the ACA. We chose a silver plan.
The yellow highlights are lies by McConnell. The orange highlights are either questionable/confusing statements by either him or the moderator, or otherwise just noteworthy:
(Moderator Bill) Goodman: has Obamacare and kynect been a boon or a bane for Kentuckians? Senator?
Mcconnell: Kentucky kynect is a website1. It was paid for by a $200 million and some-odd grant from the federal government. The website can continue. But in my view, the best interest of the country would be achieved by pulling out Obamacare root & branch and let me tell you why.
What arglebargle will come out of Mitch McConnell's mouth regarding trying to yank healthcare away from over half a million Kentuckians this evening?
The Big Senate Debate of the day promises to be the showdown in Kentucky between Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Challenger (and current Secretary of State) Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Now that Mitch McConnell is starting to feel the heat, he's decided to try and double down on the Evils of Obamacare by tying Alison Lundergan Grimes to the law (even though she didn't vote for it, seeing how she isn't, you know, a Senator yet).
So, he's started running a new ad in which a real-life doctor attacks Obamacare (mentioning in the "O" word 6 times in 30 seconds, if you include the on-screen text) while stating that Grimes supports it while McConnell wants to repeal it.
But even as Obamacare found its sea legs nationally and boasted solid first enrollment numbers in recent weeks [reminder: article is from April], it still came as a surprise to local political watchers when a Kentucky Democratic congressional candidate picked up the ACA baton and used it to bash the GOP incumbent that she is challenging. Elisabeth Jensen, the presumptive favorite to take on Lexington Congressman Andy Barr this November, emerged last week as the first federal candidate in the region—and one of only a few in the entire country—to broadcast a campaign ad championing health care reform, and attacking her opponent for voting more than a dozen times to repeal it.
Key Republicans running for election Nov. 4 say the federal Affordable Care Act is putting Kentuckians out of work, but employment data and interviews with Kentucky-based economists suggest otherwise.
...Factually, the claim doesn't appear to be accurate. Kentucky had 26,271 more people working last month than it did in March 2010 when President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state's unemployment rate in that same period fell from 10.5 percent to 7.1 percent.
Manoj Shanker, an economist at the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, said the health care law "is expected to be a net gain for the economy."
"It is definitely expected to create jobs, and not just for doctors and nurses," Shanker said.
...About 3,600 additional health care jobs were created over the last year in Kentucky as places such as Perry County...saw the percentages of their population without health insurance drop from as high as 20 percent to no more than 8 percent.
My in box is once again flooded with ACA-related stories which are interesting but which I just don't have time to do full write-ups on...
Joe Sonka has an excellent (if depressing) analysis explaining why Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes isn't campaigning on the Affordable Care Act even though her opponent, Mitch McConnell, has done everything he can to tear away healthcare from a half-million Kentuckians:
The reasons for this disconnect are many and are closely tied to the decision of Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign to steer clear of the issue. But this decision by Grimes to avoid talking about the benefits of health care reform is not just an effect of the disconnect, it is also a cause of the disconnect, itself.
In a new 60-second ad, Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundegran Grimes finally goes after opponent Mitch McConnell regarding his repeated attempts to damage/weaken Medicare. It isn't really connected to the Kynect = Obamacare = ACA issue, but it's in the ballpark, anyway:
The ad seems to have gotten under the skin of the McConnell campaign; they're actually attacking her grandfather for having a stroke:
.@Team_Mitch "Any1 who would use their grandfather's stroke" 2 reintroduce false ads "has run out of justification 4 their candidacy" #KYSen
When I last updated Kentucky's numbers on August 8th, Gov. Beshear had just repeatedly stated the latest number of people enrolled via the Kynect exchange as 521,000. He didn't break this out between QHPs and Medicaid, but I used a conservative estimate of around 91K & 430K respectively. Today, the Lt. Governor gave a similarly non-broken-down update:
Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson talked about Kynect earlier today during an appearance at the Kentucky Medical Association's annual meeting. At the event, he said implementing an exchange was necessary because it increased access to health care in our very unhealthy state. He said 527,000 signed up for coverage, primarily through Medicaid, which was also expanded.
It's been awhile since I've beaten up on Mitch McConnell (R-Yertle) for his cognitive dissonance when it comes to somehow keeping "Kynect" (ie, the Affordable Care Act) while simultaneously repealing "Obamacare" (ie, the Affordable Care Act).
As I noted back on May 29th, "McConnell is utterly full of crap. He knows it, Grimes knows it, the Kentucky media knows it; he's just hoping that the voters of Kentucky are too stupid to know it."
At the time, the Kynect ACA exchange had enrolled around 413,000 people. Since then, the number of Kentuckians enrolled via "Obamacare" has risen to over 521,000 (and even that was over a month ago; it's likely past the 550K mark by now).
Between my son being sick for the past 4 days (he's better now, thanks!), losing my internet connection for 2 days (it's back up now, thanks!) and just generally being swamped with work, I don't have time to give these stories the attention they deserve, but they're all worth checking out:
Beyond that [the 25,000 people being added to Medicaid], the strategy seeks to chip away at the ranks of the uninsured, by enrolling them in programs they already qualify but haven't signed up for. The state will launch a website to help Virginians enroll in health care coverage through existing programs such as Medicaid and will step up efforts to sign up more Virginians for the federal health insurance exchange, HealthCare.gov.