Without Obamacare, the KyNect exchange is just website that lets people know they can’t afford health insurance
When Republicans lie about Obamacare, it’s hardly news.
But the lies coming out Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul in Kentucky show what a bind the party is in now that the Affordable Care Act has truly began to take hold and work as intended in some states.
First, a more typical lie.
Earlier this week, Ohio’s Republican Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor announced that premiums in her state would rise by double-digits next year, based on insurers’ initial requests. Of course, these statistics were purposely jiggered to hide the real story: Most premiums are rising by single-digits, which is SLOWER than they’d been rising in previous years.
Affordable Care Act premiums for Ohio’s biggest and most popular health insurers will rise on average by only single digits in 2015 if Ohio insurance regulators approve them, according to newly filed rate requests and Plain Dealer interviews with insurers.
While almost no one is pleased with price hikes, these would be relatively moderate when compared with double-digit premium hikes in years before the act took effect.
Republicans have been running with outlandish, misleading predictions about premium increases for weeks, often based on a debunked survey that got predictions from six dealers.
People have gotten used to Obamacare attacks turning out to be BS. That’s why even after $35 million in Koch-backed ads attacking the law only 34 percent of America wants to repeal it, according to the latest Kaiser Foundation tracking poll.
Large majorities of Democrats and independents tired of the debate and ready to improve the law where necessary. However, 65 percent of Republicans want the law to go away.
This leads to the hilarious retreat from repeal in Kentucky, the red state that has most effectively implemented the Affordable Care Act to insure about 400,000 residents while cutting its uninsured population in half.
This week Mitch McConnell argued that even after Obamacare is repealed “root and branch,” as he’s promised for years, Kentucky could keep its KyNect health care exchange and possible even Medicaid Expansion, which would cost the state about $450 million. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act would also rip $150 million in tax credits for those who bought insurance on their own.
Rand Paul followed up his frenemy’s dissembling by saying he wasn’t sure if Kentucky should get rid of KyNect once the law is repealed.
Without subsidies, the KyNect exchange is just website that lets people know they can’t afford health insurance. So either McConnell and Rand are proposing to kick at least 300,000 Kentuckians off their insurance or they want to raise taxes in the state by about half a billion dollars.
Of course, this entire discussion is built on a lie. The GOP has no hope of repealing the ACA until 2017 when there will be as many as 40 million Americans with policies reliant on the law. And no electable Republican is going to make his first act to take insurance away from a group comparable to the population of California.
But Republicans have to lie to their base because it will not accept anything else.
Joe Sonka — who is the Kentucky reporter to follow as this farce unfolds — points out that McConnell and Paul want this debate as it forces McConnell’s opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes to side with President Obama who is even more unpopular in the state than the very unpopular McConnell.
However, Republicans’ invidious attacks on Affordable Care Act may finally come home to roost in the Bluegrass state, where the law’s success is undeniable even if most Kentuckians don’t connect it to the amorphous boogeyman known as Obamacare.
Republicans seized on the President’s “If you like your plan, you can keep it” promise, which was written into the law but circumvented by insurers who did what they have done for decades: They canceled any policy that might not make them money. Evidence suggests that the number of people who lost their policies as Obamacare rolled out was comparable to a typical year.
But now Republicans are stuck making an even more irresponsible claim: If you like KyNect, you can keep your KyNect — even after we repeal it.
Of course, they have no actual plan to replace the KyNect as they make this promise and there’s no Republican alternative that even tries to fully end the discrimination against pre-existing conditions as Obamacare does, which is key to getting as many people as possible insured.
The truth is Obamacare is slowing health care costs at an impressive rate as it has cut the uninsured population by about a fourth. And the only people who don’t know this are willfully ignorant of the facts or enjoy being lied to.
The law isn’t perfect but it’s a vast improvement over a wasteful, unstable system that was driving a debt crisis while leaving up to 45,000 Americans to die a year for lack of health insurance. Now Medicare’s life has been extended, at least 17.2 million more Americans have health insurance and the growth of the cost of insurance is finally slowing.
Republicans are now learning that the only thing harder than trying to fix a broken system is trying replace one that is starting to work.
[Image by DonkeyHotey | Flickr]