With more than 640,000 uninsured people, a legislature controlled by anti-women’s health politicians, and two infamous opponents of Obamacare--Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul--representing the state in the U.S. Senate, getting access to affordable health care in Kentucky may not seem like a cake walk. But things are starting to look up for the state. Why? Because Health Care Hero, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear managed to accept Medicaid Expansion for the benefit of his state’s residents.
Kentucky stands alone as the only Southern state to have expanded its Medicaid rolls AND manage its own health care exchange—there’s a reason it’s the top state for Obamacare enrollment. In a little over a month, more than 370,000 people have visited Kentucky’s health care exchange site, with 50,000 people having started a health care application, 32,500 people having enrolled in health care coverage, and 28,000 people having enrolled in Medicaid. In fact, Kentucky is one of the states that stand to benefit the most from Obamacare—Medicaid expansion in the state will reduce the number of poor people without insurance by 57.1%.
None of this would have happened without the hard work of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who used his executive power to bypass the Republican-controlled state Senate, to expand Medcaid and set up health care exchanges. Beshear knows that politics shouldn’t interfere with personal health care decisions. In his comments about expansion, he hit the nail on the head:
“[These] are not political decisions. They are moral decisions…Taking these steps will mean that, for the first time, every single Kentuckian will have access to affordable health care. Over the next generation, this will change the course of Kentucky’s history.”
By setting up exchanges via executive order, and ignoring the efforts to derail the creation (which included trying to prevent the exchange from finding office space so they couldn’t build the website), Beshear demonstrated his commitment to ensuring that every Kentuckian had affordable access to health care. For his belief that politics shouldn’t affect an individual’s access to health care, and his perseverance amid the conservative politics of his state, Kentucky Governor Beshear truly deserves the distinction of being named this week’s Health Care Hero.