By Elise Viebeck - 05/28/14 10:38 AM EDT
A leading Kentucky newspaper is slamming Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellDems gain upper hand on budget Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks Overnight Energy: Judges scrutinize Obama climate rule MORE (R-Ky.) for arguing that the state's health insurance exchange is not connected to ObamaCare.
The Lexington Herald-Leader took McConnell to task Wednesday in an editorial that praised the healthcare law and called the veteran senator's comments "unconnected to reality."
"How can average people be expected to understand if the Senate Republican leader still hasn't figured it out, or at least is pretending there is no connection?"
Facing a tough reelection battle, McConnell is struggling to reconcile his support for repealing the Affordable Care Act with the popularity of the state's insurance marketplace, known as Kynect.
His challenger, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, has embraced the exchange.
McConnell raised eyebrows at a press conference last Friday when he argued that Kynect is not connected to the healthcare law.
In a statement Tuesday, McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said Kentucky should "decide for itself whether to keep" the exchange "or set up a different marketplace" if the healthcare law is repealed.
"Kentuckians shouldn't have been forced to lose the plans they had and liked, shouldn't have seen their premiums skyrocket, shouldn't have had their Medicare cut, and shouldn't have had their taxes raised because ... President Obama and his friends in Washington forced it down their throats," she said.
The Affordable Care Act created a system of exchanges, including Kynect, where consumers in each state can purchase health plans.
In addition to providing a unified way of comparing plans, the exchanges help to distribute federal subsidies intended to make medical coverage cheaper. The system relies on the law's rules and regulations to function properly.
The Herald-Leader said Wednesday that the state exchange would "collapse" with repeal of ObamaCare.
"Kynect could not survive without the [law's] insurance reforms, including no longer allowing insurance companies to cancel policies when people get sick or deny them coverage because of pre-existing conditions," the editorial stated.
"Kentucky's exchange could also not survive without the federal funding and tax credits that are helping 300,000 previously uninsured Kentuckians gain access" to healthcare, it added.
A spokeswoman for McConnell's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.