Ky. Gov. Matt Bevin: ’50 Percent of Our Counties Use Only a Single Health Care Provider’

By Melanie Arter | February 28, 2017 | 12:29pm EST
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (AP Photo)

( – Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said Monday that it’s ironic that his predecessor, former Gov. Steve Beshear, will be giving the Democratic response to the president’s State of the Union address, because Beshear oversaw “a remarkable decline in access to health care coverage” in the state.

“The fact that my predecessor, who ironically will be giving a follow-up to the president’s address, it’s an interesting choice frankly, because he unilaterally chose to expand Medicaid in Kentucky, then rolled hundreds of thousands of people, and that result of it has been a remarkable decline in access to health care coverage,” Bevin said.

“More people covered, but covered by what? Fewer people able actually to even see a doctor. Fifty percent of our counties use only a single health care provider on the coverage front. There are only three now in the entire state – only one that covers the entire state,” he said.

Bevin was one of several Republican governors who spoke to reporters at the White House on the heels of the president’s speech to the National Governors Association about repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Bevin called Obamacare “an unmitigated disaster” that “has not been successful anywhere, including in Kentucky.”

“The whole point of health care coverage is of no value if you don’t create better health outcome,” he said.

“There will be a repeal. There will be a replacement, but it’s not lost on those governors here. It’s not lost on our president and our vice president. It’s not lost on this administration and Secretary Price or on any governor that I’m aware of, that you simply can’t remove something without being thoughtful as to what will come in its place,” Bevin said.

“And there has been an inordinate amount of discussion on that front, and it has been had specifically, so that we understand we want better health outcome. Simply providing coverage - and that’s something I would challenge you all to realize - it’s not purely about coverage. It’s about access to and the receipt of health care so that folks have better health outcomes,” he said.

In the Democratic response to the president’s speech, Beshear is expected to challenge the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

"American families desperately need our president to put his full attention on creating opportunity and good-paying jobs and preserving their right to affordable health care and a quality education," Beshear said in a statement Friday. "Real leaders don't spread derision and division -- they build partnerships and offer solutions instead of ideology and blame."

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in statement on Friday, “Governor Beshear’s work in Kentucky is proof positive that the Affordable Care Act works, reducing costs and expanding access for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.”

Schumer added that Beshear “knows exactly what is at risk if President Trump and congressional Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.”

Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, “The past eight years have not been easy for America's middle class,” and particularly, for Kentuckians, who have seen their health insurance premiums go up and the number of providers go down.

“The past eight years under former President Obama have not been easy for the middle class. Americans labored under an economy that failed to deliver. They fought against red tape that threatened their jobs and small businesses, and when they looked to Washington, they saw an administration that repeatedly put its left-wing ideology ahead of their middle-class interests,” McConnell said. 

“Kentuckians understand this better than most. They watched as the last administration launched a war on vulnerable families in coal country. They watched as the last administration launched a direct attack on the middle class in the form of Obamacare,” McConnell added.

“Kentuckians were promised that health insurance premiums would go down, but they soared — by as much as 47 percent this year. Kentuckians were promised that health choices would increase, but they plummeted — down to just one exchange provider in nearly half of our counties. Kentuckians were also promised they could keep their health plans, but many continue to find themselves forced into insurance so expensive, insurance that so few of their doctors will accept, it’s basically useless,” he said.

“Obamacare has pushed Kentucky’s insurance market to the brink of collapse, and now Democrats want to throw a victory party? I’m not sure how else to interpret their choice to respond to the president’s address tonight.  The absolute Obamacare disaster that Governor Beshear presided over continues to harm Kentucky today – even after he’s left office,” McConnell said. 

“Kentuckians have since repudiated that legacy in election after election. They replaced him with an anti-Obamacare Governor and Legislature. They voted for a president who listened to them and promised to repeal and replace Obamacare.  They sent Republicans back to the Senate and House who listened to them and promised to repeal and replace this partisan law too,” he added. 

“Governor Beshear was correct to note that ‘the American people by their votes don’t agree with [Democrats].’  So maybe he’ll agree it’s time to finally listen to Kentuckians and families around the country and move on from this disastrous law.  Otherwise, we’ll never move forward.  I hope that’s the message Governor Beshear can find within himself to deliver tonight,” McConnell said.

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