If anything, Gov. Bevin is just redefining how the state interacts with the ACA (aka Obamacare).
Earlier this week, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin made headlines in the most Tea Party-est way possible in that he would be dismantling one of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) (aka Obamacare) main elements, the healthcare marketplace. This led many conservatives around the country to have this reaction…
The statement comes from a campaign promise that dates back to when Gov. Bevin was running for Kentucky’s gubernatorial seat. Yet while many news outlets were decrying that Gov. Bevin is defiantly standing up against the ACA and the federal government, in reality it’s actually not that severe. If anything, Gov. Bevin is just redefining how his state interacts with the ACA.
Let us explain.
When Gov. Bevin says he’s “rejecting the Obamacare marketplace”, he essentially means he’s ending Kentucky’s ACA healthcare marketplace known as kynect. For those that don’t know, states have either the option of running their own healthcare exchanges or using Healthcare.gov. For Kentucky, back in 2014, they decided to run their own state run health exchange called kynect. And for the most part, kynect earned national attention for being very realiable, especially back when Healthcare.gov was a giant tire fire back in 2014. However now things have changed.
Healthcare.gov has now gotten reliably stable and reports show that many states (like Ohio and Florida) have expanded their healthcare coverage using Healthcare.gov over creating their own state healthcare exchange. As Sarah Kliff of Vox reports, states like Ohio and West Virginia – that use Healthcare.gov – actually have the same rate of growth when compared to states like Kentucky who use state funds to run their own health exchanges.
You can bet Gov. Bevin knows this. It’s only natural to look at the data and realize running your own state run exchange makes no sense when the federal government is doing an equally good job of insuring folks in other states that don’t have exchanges. So by discontinuing kynect, you not only get your state covered by Healthcare.gov but you also gain political clout with your conservative base by telling them you’re “sticking it to Obamacare” by dismantling the state run exchange!
That’s a political win-win if there ever was one.
Yet the biggest issue that Gov. Bevin had to make dealing with his state run health exchange was that of the Medicaid expansion. His predecessor, Democrat Steve Beshear, expanded the Medicaid program and when Gov. Bevin got into office last year, he promised he would kill off the ACA Medicaid expansion for good.
However if you were to look at the data, a major reason uninsured individuals in the US has dropped was due to the ACA Medicaid expansion. If Gov. Bevin were to actually kill the ACA Medicaid expansion, overnight almost half a million people in Kentucky would be without health insurance. That’s a political risk no incumbent would be willing to take. And from the looks of it, neither is Gov. Bevin. So during the holidays, Gov. Bevin quietly announced that he would not be killing off Medicaid expansion in Kentucky.
For many conservatives, once elected, it’s always tricky cutting government programs because many in the public actually benefit from them. In instances like Gov. Bevin telling everyone that he’s “repealing Obamacare in his state” might sound politically bold, but in reality it’s anything but.
Always remember, at the end of the day for a politician, re-election is everything.
(Photo Credit: Matt Bevin’s Twitter, Google Images)