The Richmond Register

State News

August 22, 2013

Beshear, McConnell square off on health care reform

(Continued)

LOUISVILLE —

“I was interested in the governor’s observations about Obamacare,” McConnell said.

He pointed to news accounts published Thursday that UPS, the state’s largest employer, announced it was dropping spousal coverage from employee health plans.

The company said it’s doing so to lessen the costs of implementing the ACA.

“So, governor, the solution to Obamacare is to pull it out root and branch,” McConnell said. That produced louder applause than that Beshear received when he said the law is the right and moral thing to do for Kentucky.

McConnell’s Republican colleague, Sen. Rand Paul, also addressed the crowd. Although he spent much less time on the ACA than McConnell, Paul did ask the crowd to consider “where’s the money coming from” to implement the program in Kentucky and across the nation.

During a question/answer session with reporters, Paul expanded on those remarks, saying the national deficit and debt mean the money “won’t be there” when the federal government is supposed to pay for 90 percent of Medicaid expansion.

Health care wasn’t the only issue that produced jousting between Beshear and McConnell.

Beshear called on the Congress to stop its “political excuses” and “political posturing” long enough to pass a farm bill to help Kentucky’s agricultural community — a line which drew loud applause. If critics of the ACA spent as much energy on passing a farm bill as they’ve expended trying to kill health reform, the governor said, it would be of greater benefit to Kentucky.

McConnell assured the largely agricultural group at the breakfast that “we will get a farm bill.” But he said it must be “the right farm bill.”

McConnell, who is minority leader in the Senate and has a seat on the Agriculture Committee, opposed an earlier version of the farm bill.

In addition to representing their two opposing parties, McConnell and Beshear have had a frosty relationship since they faced off in the 1996 U.S. Senate race won by McConnell.

Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

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