Beshear says other governors will follow his lead on Medicaid

Associated Press file photo

Gov. Steve Beshear says states that have not expanded the Medicaid program under the federal health-reform law, as he did, will do so in the next few years because their voters will demand it.

“I believe the pressure will be so great over the next three or four or
five years, on the states that haven’t gone in this direction, that they
will end up just where Kentucky is,” Beshear told Alexander Burns of Politico, in the governor’s latest appearance in a national publication.

Burns writes, “It’s precisely the message national Democrats are aching to hear, even –
or perhaps especially – from a source as unexpected as a pro-gun,
pro-coal, red-state governor who once endorsed using state tax
incentives to build a creationist theme park.”

The story, headlined “Kentucky’s unlikely health care heartthrob,” focuses on Beshear’s high national profile stemming from his expansion of Medicaid to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line and the state’s successful rollout of a website that is enrolling about 1,000 people a day in Medicaid or private insurance — unlike the federal government’s site, which seems to be getting in order after a disastrous rollout that made many Democrats nervous. He is the only Southern governor to take both steps.
“For anxious national Democrats who have pined for a white knight in
the health-care reform debate, Steve Beshear is starting to look like
the one they’ve been waiting for – implausible as that development may
be,” Burns writes. “Amid a torrent of negative national headlines about the Affordable Care Act, the 69-year-old Kentucky governor a
canny Southern operator who’s spent his career at arm’s length from the [national] Democratic base – has charged out of Frankfort as a kind of
ambassador-by-default for the controversial law.”
Burns says the verdicts on the state and national programs are “far from decided, but Beshear says his mind is entirely made up on
both the merits and the politics of health care. From his perspective,
voters’ opposition to the ACA is driven largely by a sense of anxiety
about how the program may change their lives. If they find a year from
now that the law has left their personal care unchanged, or even
improved it, public opinion could shift quickly.”

State Senate Republican Floor Leader Damon Thayer, “a leading Obamacare critic in the
state, said Democrats would pay a price for Beshear’s decision to ‘channel his inner liberal Democrat with no election ever facing him
again in the future’,” Burns writes, quoting Thayer: “While it appears that Kentucky has done a competent job implementing
a website, it’s still a bad policy. . . . The people of
Kentucky don’t like the fact that he has unilaterally implemented
Obamacare without legislative approval, and they don’t like Obamcare.” (Read more)

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