Governor touts Kentucky as ObamaCare model for red states

Governor touts Kentucky as ObamaCare model for red states
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Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is touting his state as an example of making ObamaCare work in a Republican stronghold.

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The state has drawn national attention for setting up its own ObamaCare marketplace and expanding Medicaid under the law. 

“Let me be clear: We welcome the attention, because we know we have boldly seized the opportunity to change the course of history in our state,” Beshear said in Washington Thursday at a conference of America’s Health Insurance Plans, an insurer trade group.

In his address, he acknowledged the political mine field around the Affordable Care Act but insisted on forging ahead.

“Look, I’m well aware of the so-called 'politics' of the ACA. President Obama didn’t get a lot of votes in Kentucky,” he said, according to prepared remarks.

“We’re represented in the Senate by two high-profile Republicans who have no love for either the president or his signature program,” Beshear continued. “But there’s a huge disconnect between the rank partisanship of national politics and governors whose job it is to help beleaguered families, strengthen work forces, attract companies and build a balanced budget.”

The state’s two Republican senators, Rand Paul, who is a likely presidential candidate, and Mitch McConnell, the Senate's majority leader, are strongly opposed to the law. 

A Gallup poll last month found that Kentucky had the second-largest drop in its uninsured rate, after Arkansas, in 2014. The rate declined from around 20 percent to around 10 percent, a result Beshear cited as evidence of the law's success. 

A recent analysis of Kentucky's Medicaid expansion in its first year found that the program added 375,000 people. The study found that as providers expanded to provide the extra care, 12,000 jobs were created, he said. 

“In short, the first year was even better for Kentucky financially than predicted," said Beshear.