But even as Obamacare found its sea legs nationally and boasted solid first enrollment numbers in recent weeks [reminder: article is from April], it still came as a surprise to local political watchers when a Kentucky Democratic congressional candidate picked up the ACA baton and used it to bash the GOP incumbent that she is challenging. Elisabeth Jensen, the presumptive favorite to take on Lexington Congressman Andy Barr this November, emerged last week as the first federal candidate in the region—and one of only a few in the entire country—to broadcast a campaign ad championing health care reform, and attacking her opponent for voting more than a dozen times to repeal it.
Key Republicans running for election Nov. 4 say the federal Affordable Care Act is putting Kentuckians out of work, but employment data and interviews with Kentucky-based economists suggest otherwise.
...Factually, the claim doesn't appear to be accurate. Kentucky had 26,271 more people working last month than it did in March 2010 when President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state's unemployment rate in that same period fell from 10.5 percent to 7.1 percent.
Manoj Shanker, an economist at the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training, said the health care law "is expected to be a net gain for the economy."
"It is definitely expected to create jobs, and not just for doctors and nurses," Shanker said.
...About 3,600 additional health care jobs were created over the last year in Kentucky as places such as Perry County...saw the percentages of their population without health insurance drop from as high as 20 percent to no more than 8 percent.
My in box is once again flooded with ACA-related stories which are interesting but which I just don't have time to do full write-ups on...
Joe Sonka has an excellent (if depressing) analysis explaining why Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes isn't campaigning on the Affordable Care Act even though her opponent, Mitch McConnell, has done everything he can to tear away healthcare from a half-million Kentuckians:
The reasons for this disconnect are many and are closely tied to the decision of Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign to steer clear of the issue. But this decision by Grimes to avoid talking about the benefits of health care reform is not just an effect of the disconnect, it is also a cause of the disconnect, itself.
In a new 60-second ad, Kentucky Senate candidate Alison Lundegran Grimes finally goes after opponent Mitch McConnell regarding his repeated attempts to damage/weaken Medicare. It isn't really connected to the Kynect = Obamacare = ACA issue, but it's in the ballpark, anyway:
The ad seems to have gotten under the skin of the McConnell campaign; they're actually attacking her grandfather for having a stroke:
.@Team_Mitch "Any1 who would use their grandfather's stroke" 2 reintroduce false ads "has run out of justification 4 their candidacy" #KYSen
When I last updated Kentucky's numbers on August 8th, Gov. Beshear had just repeatedly stated the latest number of people enrolled via the Kynect exchange as 521,000. He didn't break this out between QHPs and Medicaid, but I used a conservative estimate of around 91K & 430K respectively. Today, the Lt. Governor gave a similarly non-broken-down update:
Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson talked about Kynect earlier today during an appearance at the Kentucky Medical Association's annual meeting. At the event, he said implementing an exchange was necessary because it increased access to health care in our very unhealthy state. He said 527,000 signed up for coverage, primarily through Medicaid, which was also expanded.
It's been awhile since I've beaten up on Mitch McConnell (R-Yertle) for his cognitive dissonance when it comes to somehow keeping "Kynect" (ie, the Affordable Care Act) while simultaneously repealing "Obamacare" (ie, the Affordable Care Act).
As I noted back on May 29th, "McConnell is utterly full of crap. He knows it, Grimes knows it, the Kentucky media knows it; he's just hoping that the voters of Kentucky are too stupid to know it."
At the time, the Kynect ACA exchange had enrolled around 413,000 people. Since then, the number of Kentuckians enrolled via "Obamacare" has risen to over 521,000 (and even that was over a month ago; it's likely past the 550K mark by now).
Between my son being sick for the past 4 days (he's better now, thanks!), losing my internet connection for 2 days (it's back up now, thanks!) and just generally being swamped with work, I don't have time to give these stories the attention they deserve, but they're all worth checking out:
Beyond that [the 25,000 people being added to Medicaid], the strategy seeks to chip away at the ranks of the uninsured, by enrolling them in programs they already qualify but haven't signed up for. The state will launch a website to help Virginians enroll in health care coverage through existing programs such as Medicaid and will step up efforts to sign up more Virginians for the federal health insurance exchange, HealthCare.gov.
First in a series of profiles about KY women in charge of the state exchange:
Energy exudes from Carrie Banahan when she talks about her work with others to bring affordable health care to more than half a million Kentuckians.
“I worked all my life to see this happen, that we can provide affordable health insurance to people, and it has actually happened,” she said. “I am thrilled that we are actually helping people in Kentucky. It is the highlight of my career.”
Banahan is executive director of the Kentucky Health Benefits Exchange, which the state has branded as Kynect, partly to avoid identification with the pejorative nickname Obamacare. She shares the credit for its success.
I've been too busy with my day job (I do have one, you know...) to post much lately, but plenty of ACA-related news has piled up, so I'm clearing off my desk with some quick bits:
MARYLAND: An Amazing Healthcare Revolution Is Happening In Maryland — And Almost No One's Talking About It
The Maryland ACA exchange has been one of the "middle-tier" models in my view; not an utter disaster like the ones in Oregon or Massachusetts, but still riddled with technical problems like the ones in Minnesota & Vermont. However, the state has apparently had a different healthcare-related initiative which has been a huge success so far:
Through innovative methods and a data-centric approach, Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, has become the cornerstone in Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's ambitious makeover of the state's healthcare programs.
Mitch McConnell just had 71,000 more headaches dumped on him.
OK, I can't embed the video and even the link above just goes to the general Hardball video archive page, but on MSNBC's Hardball this evening, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear gave an updated total for ACA enrollments via the Kynect exchange: 521,000 Kentuckians. The exact quote, about 2 minutes into the segment:
“The numbers speak for themselves...from the time we opened up our healthcare exchange on October 1 at 12:01am, Kentuckians started swarming all over that website, and today, 9 months later, 521,000 Kentuckians, almost 1 in 10 Kentuckians have signed up for affordable healthcare coverage.”
He repeated the 521K number not once more but twice; obviously this was the key talking point he wanted to emphasize. Unfortunately, as has been typical for Kentucky since the end of open enrollment, he didn't break out QHPs from Medicaid/CHIP enrollments.
A nice unofficial update from Kentucky...but again, no QHP/Medicaid breakout. As I did last time, I'm going to play it cautiously and assume 90% Medicaid & 10% QHPs; since the combined total was around 421,000 last time, this brings the totals up to around 87,000 exchange QHPs and 363,000 Medicaid enrollees;
Sebelius later tweaked Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky by pointing out that Kentucky’s state health insurance program, the Kentucky Health Connector, now has 450,000 people enrolled in it and many of them had no health care before.
I debated whether I should bundle this point in with the prior Kentucky post, but decided it was worthy of a separate entry.
As I noted there, Kentucky has now enrolled around 335,000 people in Medicaid via the Kynect ACA exchange; an impressive number.
The thing is, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only about 350,000 Kentuckians who weren't insured prior to January qualified for Medicaid in the first place (including both woodworkers as well as ACA expansion). This means that theoretically up to 96% of all Kentuckians eligible for Medicaid have now been enrolled!
This isn't an official update; it doesn't give an exact number, and there's no QHP/Medicaid breakout, but it's better than nothing:
WASHINGTON – Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear charged Tuesday that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other critics of the federal health care law are being "disingenuous," attempting to be for a state program that is no different from Obamacare.
The governor called the state health care exchange known as kynect "highly successful," enrolling 421,000 Kentuckians — with 75 percent of them receiving coverage for the first time in their lives.
The final enrollment period breakdown was 82,792 QHPs and 330,615 Medicaid enrollees, or 413,407 total, so this represents an increase since 4/19 of 7,593 total.
If we were still in the open enrollment period, of course, I'd just use the same 20/80 ratio that the existing numbers suggest, but since we're in the "off season" for QHPs this is trickier. I'll assume a 10/90 ratio until I hear otherwise, which would mean that KY's QHP total is now up by 759 and Medicaid is up 6,834.
So, yesterday I posted an item about how the ACA has cut Kentucky's uninsured rate by at least 50% since last October. This is significant news, but I also posted similar items about impressive uninsured rate drops in New Jersey (38%), Minnesota (40%) and especially Massachusetts (a good 86% or so, down to nearly zilch). All four posts received various levels of retweets on Twitter. However, the Kentucky one in particular apparently caught the eye of one David Simas, aka the "Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor for Communications and Strategy."