It’s easy to love the Kentucky State Fair anecdote. Even President Obama heard about it. The story, first reported by Jason Cherkis, notes a “middle-aged man in a red golf shirt” who shuffled up to a small folding table to hear about the state’s health benefit exchange established by the Affordable Care Act. The man was impressed with what he heard, telling one of the workers behind the table, “This beats Obamacare I hope.”
It’s a great story for a variety of reasons, but let’s not brush past its location: Kentucky isn’t exactly a progressive “blue” state. On the contrary, it’s a Southern state Barack Obama lost last year by 23 points.
But it’s also a place with a popular, Democratic, two-term governor named Steve Beshear, who has a powerful op-ed in the New York Times today making the case for the health care law Republicans love to hate.
[T]here’s a huge disconnect between the rank partisanship of national politics and the outlook of governors whose job it is to help beleaguered families, strengthen work forces, attract companies and create a balanced budget.
It’s no coincidence that numerous governors – not just Democrats like me but also Republicans like Jan Brewer of Arizona, John Kasich of Ohio and Rick Snyder of Michigan – see the Affordable Care Act not as a referendum on President Obama but as a tool for historic change.
That is especially true in Kentucky, a state where residents’ collective health has long been horrendous. The state ranks among the worst, if not the worst, in almost every major health category, including smoking, cancer deaths, preventable hospitalizations, premature death, heart disease and diabetes.
Beshear sees the Affordable Care Act as a key element of a larger solution – improving residents health and financial security, improving state finances, boosting the state’s economy. “In short, we couldn’t afford not to do it…. Frankly, we can’t implement the Affordable Care Act fast enough.,” the governor said.
He added, in a message to Republicans, “Get over it … and get out of the way so I can help my people.”
Both of the state’s Republican U.S. senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, hope to destroy the entirety of the federal law.