Monday, March 31, 2014 4:18 AM
In Kentucky, Obamacare's success did nothing to change the politics of the law
In one of the poorest areas of Appalachia, about 2,500 people have signed up to get health insurance over the last six months — a number that represents more than a tenth of Clay County’s residents.
One-hundred-and-twenty miles way, the county’s state senator, Robert Stivers, is laying out his plans to gradually gut the Affordable Care Act in Kentucky, which provided his constituents with insurance. The soft-spoken 52-year-old Republican is hardly a fiery Tea Party type: He first joined the state Legislature in 1997 and slowly rose through the ranks to become the state Senate president. In a mid-March interview in a small room just off the floor of the Senate in Kentucky’s Capitol building, Stivers acknowledged that Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear had handled the rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care law smoothly in this state and that some people in his district now have health insurance for the first time.
Stivers, though, is unmoved. The Affordable Care Act, he says, is “unsustainable” in the long run. If Republicans can gain more seats in the state Legislature here over the next year, he said, they will look to peel back Kentucky’s participation in the health care law by limiting the expansion of Medicaid in the state. And he backs scrapping the entire law, too, at the federal level. “I do think it should be repealed,” he said emphatically at the end of the interview.