When Mitch McConnell dropped jaws last Friday by saying that the fate of Kynect — and the health insurance coverage of over 400,000 Kentuckians — is “unconnected” to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, many wondered if he embarrassingly misspoke, or if it was an intentional deception designed to fool voters into thinking that the popular state Obamacare exchange could survive without Obamacare.
Today’s story from WFPL shows that McConnell’s choice of words was, in fact, intentional, and his campaign is doubling down on deception:
The McConnell campaign made clear he does not endorse the state exchange, but indicated it could survive a full blown repeal if the GOP takes over the Senate.
“If Obamacare is repealed, Kentucky should decide for itself whether to keep KyNect or set up a different marketplace,” McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore told WFPL.
“But Kentuckians shouldn’t have been forced to lose the plans they had and liked, shouldn’t have seen their premiums skyrocket, shouldn’t have had their Medicare cut, and shouldn’t have had their taxes raised because of President Obama and his friends in Washington forced it down their throats.”
Just for the record, McConnell saying that Kynect can survive the repeal of Obamacare is like saying that the Oklahoma City Thunder can trade Kevin Durant, but keep his jump shot.
The Kynect website and call center was paid for with federal money from the ACA, specifically $252 million in federal grants. Without the ACA, Kentucky foots the bill for a website that is worthless.
Over 300,000 Kentuckians gained Medicaid coverage because the ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility and Kentucky did not opt out, and that coverage is 100 percent paid for by federal money under the ACA, until it becomes 90 percent after a few years. Without the ACA they are no longer eligible, unless Kentucky changes their state law and pays through nose to cover these new people (that is not happening).
Most of the 82,795 Kentuckians who bought private insurance through Kynect were able to do so with the help of federal subsidies only made possible by the ACA. Without the ACA, those plans that have strong consumer protections on preexisting conditions, not being dropped from coverage for getting sick, and spending caps are no longer mandatory, so they’re gone. Gone as well is the requirement that children must be covered under their parents plans through the age of 25. Without the ACA many of these people won’t find someone to insure them, and many are forced to go back to junk plans that are worthless when you have a medical emergency or plans that are unaffordable without federal ACA subsidies.
Without the ACA, Kynect is nothing but a worthless website that would soon go dark, and roughly 400,000 Kentuckians will lose their coverage and the consumer protections it provides, and will therefore be thrown back into the old healthcare system that had failed them beforehand.
What McConnell is hoping to do with this strategy is deceive Kentucky voters who like what Kynect is doing but have a negative perception of the Affordable Care Act, and hope that the media here will do lazy “He said, She said” reporting that does not explicitly point out that what McConnell is saying is flatly false. He might turn out to be successful on that front, but this might also be a good opportunity for Alison Lundergan Grimes to get off of the sidelines and actually talk about health care with the media and voters so they know exactly what McConnell is trying to do, and have an honest conversation about what she would do. Or, she can continue staying out of this fight, and just hope for the best. Your call, Alison.