On Tuesday, the law we’ve come to know as Obamacare officially went online. The federal government can now force you to buy a product it wants you to buy – one that will cost more than it ought to. And, if you don’t like it, tough; the feds will just hit you with punitive taxes.
Gov. Steve Beshear seems to think this is a good deal for Kentuckians. He took to the pages of The New York Times to sing Obamacare’s praises and blast both of us for daring to oppose a law that so many Kentuckians want to see repealed. For those concerned about Obamacare, the governor’s message was basically this: “Get over it.”
We’re sure that won him some applause in Manhattan. But the self-congratulatory rhetoric won’t do much for families like yours. Obamacare might sell in New York, but Kentuckians aren’t buying it.
Both of us have heard your concerns in letters, phone calls and countless health care town halls. Like you, we understand that for many this law is going to mean lost health plans, layoffs and smaller paychecks. Some have already started to see the effects. Recall, as just one example, the spouses recently forced off health plans at some of our state’s largest employers.
And yet, the governor described his implementation of Obamacare in glowing terms. We heard the same kind of spin two years ago when he moved Kentucky’s Medicaid recipients to a managed care system. That was before Kentuckians found out about patients being denied treatments or forced to travel long distances as a result, or about doctors and hospitals left for months with unpaid bills. Kentucky’s largest newspaper called the rollout “disastrous.” Now, Beshear wants to add hundreds of thousands more to this broken system. But our state needs an additional 3,700 doctors just to meet current demand, so he seems to be promising Kentuckians insurance he can’t deliver. That’s not right.
The governor likes to tout his so-called discounts for health insurance too. What he won’t tell you is that most Kentuckians won’t receive them, and that the subsidies will be financed by higher taxes and cuts to Medicare.
As for the supposed economic benefits of Obamacare, good people can debate the numbers he cited. But this much is clear: The law is imposing nearly two dozen new taxes, many of which will affect middle-class families. And he said almost nothing about the fact that Obamacare is actually projected to increase American health costs by $621 billion, nor did he say much about the negative impacts of this law on the businesses that employ so many Kentuckians and drive our economy.
The choices for health care coverage in parts of Kentucky will be limited to just two companies in the individual exchange market. This government-issued health care plan strips away your freedom to choose what plan works best for you and your family.
In short, we agree with Gov. Beshear that Kentucky needs health reform. But we strongly disagree that Obamacare is the answer. As so often happens when our friends on the left set out to fix a problem, their ideas, however well-intentioned, end up hurting the very people they sought to help. That’s just what we’re seeing with Obamacare.
We think Kentuckians deserve the kind of bipartisan, common-sense health reform that will actually lower costs and improve the quality of care; in other words, not Obamacare. But to get there, we need to repeal this partisan mess of a law so we can start over with real input from the American people and members of both parties.
We hope Gov. Beshear will move on from the failure of Obamacare – to paraphrase the governor, we hope he’ll “get over it” – and join Republicans in this effort. Because we’d love to hear his bipartisan health ideas, and we’d love to include them in actual health reform that might actually move Kentucky forward. ■
Republicans Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul represent Kentucky in the U.S. Senate.