In Kentucky, sign-ups for Obamacare have climbed higher than 400,000. Yet Mitch McConnell, as always, remains 1000 percent convinced that the law is an ongoing policy catastrophe that will never be anything other than an irrevocable political disaster for Democrats.
No doubt, Obamacare (and Obama) are hideously unpopular in Kentucky. But it would be interesting to see how Kentucky Kynect — the state exchange that by most accounts is a success — polls there.
Now a Dem House candidate is running a new ad hitting Republicans specifically for wanting to end Kentucky Kynect, as opposed to wanting to repeal Obamacare. The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Elisabeth Jensen, who is challenging GOP Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky’s 6th District, is tying Barr to unpopular Senator Mitch McConnell, contrasting their drive to repeal Kentucky Kynect with popular Governor Steve Beshear’s successful implementation of it:
“Thanks to Governor Beshear, Kentucky Kynect provides health care to Kentuckians who had no insurance,” Jensen says in the ad. “But Barr, along with Mitch McConnell, voted to end Kynect and let insurance companies drop coverage, deny care and charge women more.”
The ad says that Barr has voted to repeal the controversial health care law 19 times and charges that the congressman has taken $148,000 in contributions from insurance companies.
“I often say Kentucky moms like me get more done by noon than Congress gets done in a week,” Jensen says in the ad. “So when I learned Congressman Andy Barr voted 19 times to repeal health care reform, I was disappointed.”
Audio of the ad is here. This House race doesn’t look competitive — Cool Political report ranks it as “Likely Republican” — but this will be interesting to watch. Note that the ad equates “health care reform” with “Kentucky Kynect,” and not with Obamacare.
As I noted the other day, Alison Lundergan Grimes is mostly avoiding directly engaging McConnell on Obamacare, mainly to avoid getting drawn into Washington arguments and to play to her strengths. She didn’t vote for the law, and Dems closely following the race say her prospects will turn heavily on how successfully she roots her candidacy in the state, and whether her campaign can avoid getting associated with Pelosi-Reid-#Obummer national Democrats.
What’s more, some Dems think Grimes can let Governor Beshear — who advocates for Obamacare with near-evangelical fervor – make the aggressive moral case against McConnell for wanting to scrap Kentucky Kynect and all the help it has afforded people, ginning up core voters, while she talks about jobs, pay equity, and the minimum wage.
You have to wonder whether there is a point at which enrollment could hit a critical mass large enough for McConnell to feel a hint of uncertainty on the issue. If enrollment continues to pile up, it would be interesting to see McConnell asked directly to justify repealing Kentucky Kynect, which localizes the issue, and in the follow up, what he would do for the hundreds of thousands who would lose health coverage if he got his way. No doubt he would just repeat yet again that Obamacare must be repealed “root and branch,” while remaining absolutely certain that this argument cannot fail, ever.
Meanwhile, some other news from the Obamacare-is-an-unremitting-catastrophe files. GOP Rep. Tom Cotton — who is challenging Senator Mark Pryor — is declining to take a position on the “private option” version of the Medicaid expansion in his state. And the Congressional Budget Office has determined that the law may be cheaper than expected to implement, while projecting it will cover more people than previously thought.