Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Democratic Governor of Kentucky (you read that right) Steve Beshear wrote an opinion for the New York Times on Friday well worth the read. My
State Needs Obamacare. Now.
SUNDAY morning news programs identify Kentucky as the red state with two
high-profile Republican senators who claim their rhetoric represents an
electorate that gave President Obama only about a third of its
presidential vote in 2012.
So why then is Kentucky — more quickly than almost any other state — moving to implement the Affordable Care Act?
Because there’s a huge disconnect between the rank partisanship of
national politics and the outlook of governors whose job it is to help
beleaguered families, strengthen work forces, attract companies and
create a balanced budget.
It’s no coincidence that numerous governors — not just Democrats like me
but also Republicans like Jan Brewer of Arizona, John Kasich of Ohio
and Rick Snyder of Michigan — see the Affordable Care Act not as a
referendum on President Obama but as a tool for historic change.
That is especially true in Kentucky, a state where residents’ collective
health has long been horrendous. The state ranks among the worst, if
not the worst, in almost every major health category, including smoking,
cancer deaths, preventable hospitalizations, premature death, heart
disease and diabetes.
We’re making progress, but incremental improvements are not enough. We
need big solutions with the potential for transformational change.
The Affordable Care Act is one of those solutions.
For the first time, we will make affordable health insurance available
to every single citizen in the state. Right now, 640,000 people in
Kentucky are uninsured. That’s almost one in six Kentuckians.
Lack of health coverage puts their health and financial security at risk.
They roll the dice and pray they don’t get sick. They choose between
food and medicine. They ignore checkups that would catch serious
conditions early. They put off doctor’s appointments, hoping a condition
turns out to be nothing. And they live knowing that bankruptcy is just
one bad diagnosis away.
Furthermore, their children go long periods without checkups that focus
on immunizations, preventive care and vision and hearing tests. If they
have diabetes, asthma or infected gums, their conditions remain
untreated and unchecked.
For Kentucky as a whole, the negative impact is similar but larger —
jacked-up costs, decreased worker productivity, lower quality of life,
depressed school attendance and a poor image.
The Affordable Care Act will address these weaknesses.
Some 308,000 of Kentucky’s uninsured — mostly the working poor — will be
covered when we increase Medicaid eligibility guidelines to 138 percent
of the federal poverty level.
PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Studies Institute at the University of Louisville concluded that expanding Medicaid
would inject $15.6 billion into Kentucky’s economy over the next eight
years, create almost 17,000 new jobs, have an $802.4 million positive
budget impact (by transferring certain expenditures from the state to
the federal government, among other things), protect hospitals from cuts
in indigent care funding and shield businesses from up to $48 million
in annual penalties.
In short, we couldn’t afford not to do it.
The other 332,000 uninsured Kentuckians will be able to access
affordable coverage — most with a discount — through the Health Benefit
Exchange, the online insurance marketplace we named Kynect: Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection.
Kentucky is the only Southern state both expanding Medicaid and
operating a state-based exchange, and we remain on target to meet the
Oct. 1 deadline to open Kynect with the support of a call center that is
providing some 100 jobs. Having been the first state-based exchange to
complete the readiness review with the United States Department of
Health and Human Services, we hope to become the first one to be
Frankly, we can’t implement the Affordable Care Act fast enough.
As for naysayers, I’m offended by their partisan gamesmanship, as they
continue to pour time, money and energy into overturning or defunding
the Affordable Care Act. It’s shameful that these critics haven’t
invested that same level of energy into trying to improve the health of
They insist that the Affordable Care Act will never work — when in fact a
similar approach put into effect in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney, then
the governor, is working.
So, to those more worried about political power than Kentucky’s families, I say, “Get over it.”
The Affordable Care Act was approved by Congress and sanctioned by the Supreme Court. It is the law of the land.
Get over it … and get out of the way so I can help my people. Here in
Kentucky, we cannot afford to waste another day or another life.