Places such as Breathitt County, in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky, are driving the state’s relatively high enrollment figures, which are helping to drive national enrollment figures as the federal health exchange has floundered. In a state where 15 percent of the population, about 640,000 people, are uninsured, 56,422 have signed up for new health-care coverage, with 45,622 of them enrolled in Medicaid and the rest in private health plans, according to figures released by the governor’s office Friday.
If the health-care law is having a troubled rollout across the country, Kentucky — and Breathitt County in particular — shows what can happen in a place where things are working as the law’s supporters envisioned.
One reason is that the state set up its own health-insurance exchange, sidestepping the troubled federal one. Also, Gov. Steve Beshear (D) is the only Southern governor to sign on to expanded eligibility parameters for Medicaid, the federal health-insurance program for the poor.
The real benefit here is Medicaid expansion. Kentucky has already knocked more than a full percentage point off the number of uninsured, tens of thousands of people. In just a month, a sizable dent has been made in the state's uninsured population. This is what Obamacare was supposed to do all along: give states the tools to control their health costs and to help their people.
It's Republicans who have refused the program and wrecked the ship. You can complain about the federal website all you want, but the real issue is Republicans are making this fail for millions on purpose and are complaining about why it's not working. It's not working because they've done everything they possibly can to make it not work in more than half the states.
Where it is working? Kentucky. Think about that.