Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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May 30, 2014

RONNIE ELLIS: Don’t be confused by ‘facts’

FRANKFORT — Over the next six months Kentucky will endure a dispiriting “debate” about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

You’ll be inundated with “facts” which support one side or the other. A lot of those facts from both sides will be inaccurate and some will be deliberately misleading.

Many of you have valid reasons for opposing the law and many of you have valid reasons for supporting it. Depending on your philosophical perspective, personal priorities and value system, there are logical reasons for both positions.

Incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell wants to make the law a central issue in his re-election campaign, trying to hang it and its namesake, President Barack Obama, who is very unpopular in Kentucky, around the neck of his Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes. He tried to do that last week while taking questions from reporters, saying the law is the “worst piece of legislation in 50 years” and it needs to be repealed.

But the law has worked well in Kentucky and that complicates things for McConnell and Grimes. Grimes tries to split the baby by refusing to say how she would have voted when the law was before Congress but saying she wouldn’t support repeal.

Grimes has suggested she’ll “fix the law” when she gets to the Senate, but that’s disingenuous. First, she’s vague on what she’d change, occasionally talking about the mandate requiring businesses of certain sizes to offer health insurance or pay a fine. Secondly, one U.S. Senator out of 100 isn’t likely to fix anything on his or her own. (Ask Rand Paul.)

McConnell was equally disingenuous about the ACA debate at a press conference last week. The law has allowed roughly 420,000 Kentuckians who previously couldn’t afford insurance to acquire it. Everyone likes some of the law’s provisions, especially prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage or charging exorbitant premiums for those with pre-existing conditions. And the health exchange set up by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear – Kynect – has performed well and is viewed as a national model.

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