Mitch McConnell tells a pants-on-fire lie about Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion

McConnell's fire pants

McConnell’s fire pants

As we mentioned earlier today, Sen. Mitch McConnell made some truly bizarre statements this week in Oldham County about how gender discrimination is practically over because there are female CEOs in America and the way out of student debt is to go into the debt-accelerating factories of the for-profit college industry. While these statements might show that McConnell is out of touch with women, students, recent graduates and people who aren’t worth $20 million like himself, he also made one statement concerning Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid that is simply out of touch with reality.

Explaining to the audience why tuition is so high, McConnell tried to pin the blame on Medicaid costs, assisted by a huge deception on Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid (another h/t to the Oldham Era):

“Let me just give you an idea of why college tuition continues to go up as fast as it does in Kentucky. The two biggest expenses in every state budget: education and Medicaid. As the Medicaid costs for state government rise, education expenses get cut. Under Obamacare the governor made a unilateral decision to dramatically expand Medicaid. The federal government is going to pick up the costs for the first three years, and after that, you’re on your own. So these guys are confronted with a Hobson’s choice: cut Medicaid or cut education. What ends up happening is they don’t fund education as much as they otherwise would, because Medicaid expenses are rising. Those are passed on to the public universities and they raise tuition. This spiraling cost of health care is even having an impact on the cost of education. And we’ve only exacerbated that problem with Obamacare.”

So the federal government picks up the cost of Medicaid for three years, and then Kentucky is “on our own?” In fact, that is not even remotely close to being true. After those three years McConnell refers to, the federal government continues to pick up nearly the entire tab until 2020, when the federal government pays 90 percent and Kentucky pays 10 percent. “On our own” implies either 100 percent or at least the typical 30 percent under Medicaid, not 10 percent or less.

And if McConnell is concerned about Kentucky being able to pay that 10 percent by 2020, the two independent analyses by Price Waterhouse Coopers and the Urban Studies Institute at the University of Louisville actually show that Kentucky’s budget saves more money by choosing to expand Medicaid, with a revenue increase of $802 million by 2021, instead of a projected loss if Kentucky chose not to expand, largely due to savings on uncompensated care and growth in the health care industry. If McConnell has a study to show that these numbers are wrong, he hasn’t shared it with anyone.

And if you remember McConnell’s “unKynected” fiasco from May, his campaign manager said that Kentucky could continue the Medicaid expansion even if the ACA was repealed. And how could Kentucky do that? By passing legislation in which Kentucky pays for this expansion at a rate that would more accurately be described as “on our own,” which would total anywhere from $450 to $584 million next year alone — money that we would not have to pay, otherwise.

I’d say that McConnell is simply confused and misinformed if I didn’t know any better, but he is clearly in political survival mode, and he’s apparently willing to say anything that will save his skin, facts be damned.

Gov. Steve Beshear sent along this statement to LEO on McConnell’s statement in Buckner this week:

“Either Sen. McConnell doesn’t know how both Kentucky’s budget and federal Medicaid funding works … or this is campaign season, and he’s worried about his political future. Either way, his “either-or” explanation is disingenuous and inaccurate. Obviously both education and health care are critical to building a stronger workforce in Kentucky, and we’re making progress in both areas while holding down growing costs, thanks in part to the ACA. As Sen. McConnell well knows, while Kentucky will start paying a small match for expanded Medicaid in 2017, even at full implementation in 2020, the federal government will still be paying 90 percent of the program costs.”


  1. Staci
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t putting more government money into higher education solve the problem of growing costs in Medicaid programs? Give a man a fish he eats for a day. Teach him to fish he eats for a lifetime. Right? I am not suggesting that the entire Medicaid program is a handout but many that are on it are capable of working, or who could work jobs that provide more financial security but can’t get those jobs because they don’t have a college degree. Sure it would cost a lot in the beginning but over time it would lower the Medicaid costs substantially and would benefit our economy because people could spend more. The system we have in place now just perpetuates the problem. I suppose our government likes it this way because the more people that are dependent on it, the more power it has over us. Unfortunately that power has duped us all into thinking we are free in this country but in a system that allows insurance companies to profit from its sick citizens and blames it on the poor or people who rely on the government to survive (because of the financial drain they pose) it seems to me that we are more slaves to it than we are free. It isn’t a complete lie, however…anyone can be free as long as they can afford it.

  2. Marcus Woodward
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Senator McConnell continues to treat Kentucky’s voters with contempt and disdain as he tells magnificent UNTRUTHS and goes unchallenged. The Medicaid Expansion portion of Obamacare known in Kentucky as “KYNECT” is 100% funded by the Federal Government for three years, then the funding gradually diminishes to 90% Federal, yet McConnell says “we are on our own” purely incorrect. Reminds me of the egregious math mistake by his partner, the JUNIOR Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, who recently said of KYNECT that “for every person who enrolled into KYNECT there were 40 that LOST their plan and coverage” Lets do the math, Senator: 420,000 Kentuckians enrolled into KYNECT as of April 15th, so if for every one of them 40 lost their coverage you are saying that 16,800,000 Kentuckians LOST THEIR COVERAGE? 420,000 X 40 = 16,800,000, right? Bad news Senator, there are ONLY 4,300,000 folks IN Kentucky….oooooooopsie daisey seems we be (1) very BAD at Math or (2) very very very very dishonest. I’ll give you all a break and just settle on the math. OK?

  3. Buck Feshear
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Paul said lost their plan in addition to losing their coverage. I didn’t lose coverage, but I lost my plan, and the plan I had to take to replace it has resulted in higher deductibles and higher out-of-pocket costs. Obamacare has been harmful to me, but I guess that’s OK because i would not be predisposed to vote for a liberal Democrat anyway and since they never had my vote, they would never try to buy it.

  4. David Sykes
    Posted July 13, 2014 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Trolls gotta troll. “I didn’t lose coverage, but I lost my plan…” how is that even possible? Did you have to pay for a more substantial plan? I guess that happened to some.

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