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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell recently proclaimed: “The best interest of the country would be achieved by pulling out Obamacare, root and branch.”
Like Captain Ahab’s suicidal obsession with Moby Dick, the great white whale in Melville’s classic novel, GOP lawmakers like McConnell are so obsessed with killing America’s new health care law that they can’t say “hello” without adding, “Repeal Obamacare.” But do they actually mean it?
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Not in Mitch’s case. You see, his state’s health care exchange, called “Kentucky Kynect,” was set up and funded through the Obamacare law – and it is both very successful and popular. About half a million Kentuckians are getting health coverage through the program, most of it paid for by the law’s expansion of Medicaid. So McConnell, who’s now in a tight reelection race, is trying to pull off a magical bit of political trickery. He will uproot Obamacare, he promises voters, yet – abracadabra! – their treasured Kentucky Kynect program will still flower.
Of course, magicians don’t perform magic, they perform illusions. McConnell’s trick amounts to nothing but a slick play on words. He’s telling voters that since Kentucky Kynect is “a state exchange,” it can operate separately from that big bad federal program.
The senator hopes his constituents will be so dazzled by this rhetorical flourish that they’ll suspend all rational thought, ignore the laws nature, and send the old trickster back to Washington to yank Obamacare out of the ground. Never mind that the national program, rooted in Medicaid, is what pumps the essential funding into Kentucky’s state exchange. Kill one, you kill the other.
Mitch would make a lousy gardener, but he’s even lousier at being an example of political integrity. Even if he wins, he’s already proven himself a loser.
“Mitch McConnell’s puzzling claims on insurance in Kentucky, post-Obamacare,” www.washingtonpost.com, October, 16, 2014.