Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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February 4, 2014

Data: Nearly 200,000 Kentuckians find insurance coverage

FRANKFORT — There aren’t many Republicans in Kentucky’s General Assembly who like the new Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as they call it.

But that doesn’t mean some of their constituents back home feel the same way.

“People who are now able to get coverage definitely feel differently about it,” said Sue Singleton of the McCreary Christian Center which operates a free clinic in Whitley City.

Public polling has consistently shown the law is unpopular in Kentucky. Rep. Ken Upchurch, R-Monticello, who represents Wayne, McCreary and part of Pulaski County is in line with the polling.

He thinks the law will ultimately fail and questions its costs. He’s heard stories of people who now pay higher deductibles under the new law and of others who’ve lost coverage. As for those who are now insured for the first time, Upchurch said, “I’m glad they’ve got coverage, but I’m not sure what they’ve got now is much better than having nothing.”

Singleton said perception of the law changes when people who previously couldn’t afford health insurance see what it can do for them.

“They said, no we don’t have any way to pay for that, but when we showed them the income guide, many of them found out they didn’t have to pay,” Singleton said. “I haven’t seen anyone who’s been hurt by the law. I’ve seen nothing but good from it.”

She said many of the center’s clients for the first time can see specialists for chronic problems like heart disease and asthma and the number of patients at the free clinic has actually declined.

As of the last day of January, 1,320 people living in McCreary County had signed up for coverage under the new law, according to data from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Of those, most were eligible for Medicaid, 1,175. Of the remainder, 120 people bought a private insurance plan but qualified for subsidies or tax credits to help them pay for it and 25 more bought coverage without any financial assistance.

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Paul and Kristen Shively at their new shop, Phoenix Vapors, on 16th Street in downtown Ashland.

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