The Richmond Register

State News

August 22, 2013

Beshear, McConnell square off on health care reform

LOUISVILLE — Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell used the Kentucky Farm Bureau breakfast Thursday at the State Fair to duel over the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” as its critics refer to it.

Beshear has implemented the law in Kentucky, establishing online exchanges for people to shop for low-cost health insurance and expanding Medicaid to cover about 300,000 previously uninsured Kentuckians.

McConnell, on the other hand, tells every audience he faces that “we need to pull out Obamacare, root and branch.”

So when Beshear addressed 1,600 or so gathered for the annual breakfast, McConnell sat stoically two chairs away while the governor said implementing the law “is a historic opportunity to change the future of the commonwealth.”

Beshear said implementing the law “is not only the right and moral thing to do,” but will provide an economic boon to Kentucky by creating 17,000 jobs with a positive economic impact of $15.6 billion. That ultimately will boost state revenues by a net of $800 million, he said.

“These aren’t my numbers,” the governor said, telling the crowd they were the conclusions of two independent, outside analyses.

Beshear recalled for the audience — and perhaps specifically for McConnell — that the same tupe of health care reform was successfully implemented in Massachusetts when Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee was governor, and it didn’t cause employers to leave in droves. And, more people in that state now enjoy health insurance coverage, the Kentucky governor said.

He said it is time for Washington put away political posturing and bickering and work across partisan lines to solve national problems.

It didn’t take McConnell long to respond when he followed Beshear to the podium.

After ticking off some of his standard lines about the national debt and what he calls a “war on coal” by the Obama administration, McConnell turned to Beshear’s comments.

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