Beshear, writing in The New York Times, defends Obamacare

Ever since he decided to expand Medicaid with money from the federal health-reform law, Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has been telling opponents of Obamacare to "Get over it." Now, as Republicans have made the law the sticking point in talks to keep the government open and cover the national debt, Beshear has taken that argument to a national audience.

"Get over it, and get out of the way, so I can help my people. Here in Kentucky, we cannot afford to waste another day or another life," Beshear concluded in an op-ed piece in The New York Times on Friday. While not naming Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, he took some swings at them.

"Sunday morning news programs identify Kentucky as the red state with two high-profile Republican senators who claim their rhetoric represents an electorate that gave President Obama only about a third of its presidential vote in 2012," Beshear wrote. "So why then is Kentucky — more quickly than almost any other state — moving to implement the Affordable Care Act?"

The real answer is that Beshear is a Democrat and Kentucky law allowed him to expand Medicaid and create a state-based health-insurance marketplace without approval of the legislature, which is divided between the parties. But the governor answered his question another way: "Because there’s a huge disconnect between the rank partisanship of national politics and the outlook of governors whose job it is to help beleaguered families, strengthen work forces, attract companies and create a balanced budget."

Beshear noted that several Republican governors have expanded Medicaid and/or created insurance exchanges, saying they "see the Affordable Care Act not as a referendum on President Obama but as a tool for historic change. That is especially true in Kentucky, a state where residents’ collective health has long been horrendous."

Beshear said health insurance will now be available to the 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians. "Lack of health coverage puts their health and financial security at risk. They roll the dice and pray they don’t get sick. They choose between food and medicine. They ignore checkups that would catch serious conditions early. They put off doctor’s appointments, hoping a condition turns out to be nothing. And they live knowing that bankruptcy is just one bad diagnosis away. Furthermore, their children go long periods without checkups that focus on immunizations, preventive care and vision and hearing tests. If they have diabetes, asthma or infected gums, their conditions remain untreated and unchecked. For Kentucky as a whole, the negative impact is similar but larger — jacked-up costs, decreased worker productivity, lower quality of life, depressed school attendance and a poor image. . . . Frankly, we can’t implement the Affordable Care Act fast enough." (Read more
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