Affordable Care Act’s effect upon Ky.


A Koch-backed political blitz is betting that Kentuckians won’t let health care facts stand in the way of anti-Obama emotion.

The ad launched Monday by Americans for Prosperity could not be more misleading.

And the advocacy group, which was founded by David Koch of the Koch Industries conglomerate and helped fuel the Tea Party movement, is promising to send people to your door to further mislead you.

The only thing the ad gets right is the phone number, as it urges viewers to call Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic candidate for governor, to tell him how wrong “Obamacare” has been for Kentucky.

The Democratic president is highly unpopular with Kentuckians. But his signature health care law, enacted by Congress in 2010 and properly known as the Affordable Care Act, has been great for Kentucky.

In the first year of full implementation, the percentage of adult Kentuckians younger than 65 without insurance decreased from 20.4 to 9.8.

Kentucky’s decline in uninsured handily beat the U.S. and neighboring states’ average declines, according to a study by the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center.

As for Kentucky’s hospitals, which the Koch ad claims are in “crisis,” the influx of newly insured patients produced more than a half-billion dollars in new revenue the first year and a huge decrease in bad debts.

Uncompensated care — when hospitals are not paid for their services — is down 70 percent since the 2014 launch of Kynect, the state health insurance exchange, and the Medicaid expansion.

Health insurance rates in Kentucky are not “skyrocketing.” Increases for 2016 will be less than the big increases insurers are seeking in some states. Plus, five health insurance companies are coming to Kentucky. The average is one new insurer a state. New competition will help hold down premiums, while insurers no longer can drop people if they get sick.

AFP claims the law is “costing us jobs.” But Kentucky’s unemployment rate of 5.2 percent is the lowest in 14 years. Unemployment declined in 115 of 120 Kentucky counties from July 2014 to July 2015. A decline in hospital employment in Kentucky has been more than offset by increases in other areas of health care.

Three newly published studies found no evidence the health care law was reducing full-time work, the Washington Post reports.

Given all that Kentucky has gained, Conway would have been a fool to have joined with Republican attorneys general to challenge the health care law. None of their challenges succeeded; the law has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Despite the progress of the past 20 months, Kentucky is a long way from overcoming its inheritance of disease and disability, and making health care as effective and affordable as possible.

It’s a big, serious challenge and deserves to be treated seriously in the race for governor.

The purveyors of so much misinformation and nonsense do not have Kentucky’s best interests at heart.

Lexington Herald-Leader

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