Affordable Care Act

David Brinkley

Kentucky’s Second District Congressman thinks lawmakers will need to have a greater say in any future U.S. military action in Syria.

Bowling Green Republican Brett Guthrie said it remains to be seen if the Syrian regime will change its behavior after last week’s U.S. missile attack on an airfield. His comments come as questions are raised over the role Congress should play in approving the kinds of strikes carried out

“And I actually do think the president had the authority to do what he did the other day, but I think if we’re going to engage and move forward, it needs to have Congressional authorization,” Rep. Guthrie said. “I said that when President Obama was president, and I’ll say it now.”

When House Speaker Paul Ryan says he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act so that people can buy insurance that's right for them, and not something created in Washington, part of what he's saying is that he wants to get rid of so-called essential health benefits.

That's a list of 10 general categories of medical care that all insurance policies are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act.

Ryland Barton

President Donald Trump urged a crowd in Louisville to support the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare currently making it through the U.S. House of Representatives.

Before a crowd of around 18,000 people packed into Freedom Hall, Trump said the bill was “our long-awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare.”

“Obamacare has been a complete and total catastrophe and it’s getting worse and worse by the day,” Trump said. “And yet you watch the fake media, the fake news, and they try and build it up. It’s a disaster, fellas.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul is not happy with the current Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The plan comes from House Speaker Paul Ryan and has the support of President Donald Trump.

Although Paul was in Louisville Monday, he is skipping President Trump’s rally in Louisville Monday night, saying he was headed back to Washington to drum up votes against the repeal plan, which is headed for a vote Thursday.

“My hope is that it fails Thursday and that’s when the true negotiation begins,” Paul said at the Louisville Chamber of Commerce Monday morning.

The GOP repeal and replace bill would do away with the ACA’s requirement that individuals have health insurance and large employers provide it.

Flickr/Creative Commons/ Lora Zibman

The new report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that 24 million Americans would be without health insurance in the next 10 years if the current Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act is approved. 

Many residents of Kentucky are carefully watching to see how they might be affected. About 400,000 Kentucky residents who previously did not have health insurance gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act.  Robin Shank of Glasgow is one of them.

“I’m concerned about the ACA. I have a very bad heart condition. I went 25 years without medical insurance. It about broke me. The ACA saved my life," said Shank. "If they take it away, it’s going to kill me. It’s going to drive my family into bankruptcy and then I’ll die. That’s why I’m concerned.”

Rebecca Kiger

Wendy Crites is a single mom, a Christian and a recovering addict in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. She's on parole and receiving substance abuse treatment through the Jefferson Day Report Center. Crites has been using drugs since she was 13, intravenously since she was 15.

“Everyone has some kind of addiction,” she said. “I believe it’s that hole everyone has in their heart that you’re trying to fill -- I’ve filled it with drugs. I think it’s really something only God can do. And I think he uses our weaknesses to bring us to him.”

Crites has a 26-year-old daughter, Ashley, and a 12-year-old son, Devin.

“I have the sweetest son - half of his life he’s saw me be strung out on drugs. He’s getting ready be a teenager, and I just want to be a good role model for him.”

Ryland Barton

Vice President Mike Pence stopped in Louisville Saturday to pitch the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“The Obamacare nightmare is about to end,” Pence said before a crowd of about 150 business owners.

The visit came as President Trump tries to rally support for the plan, especially among conservatives like Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who favors an outright repeal of Obamacare.

“Folks, let me be clear,” Pence said. “This is going to be a battle in Washington D.C. And for us to seize this opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all we need every Republican in Congress and we’re counting on Kentucky.”

Becca Schimmel

Retired coal miners face a one-two punch to their health benefits that could leave many of them in the lurch. A repeal of Obamacare and the expiration of miner’s health protections could make it hard for any coal retiree to get health care.

Ohio Valley retirees have been meeting one-on-one with congressional leaders to talk about the risks to their benefits. Some provisions of the Affordable Care Act are especially important to miners. The so-called Byrd Amendment deals with benefits for miners suffering from black lung, and miners hope it will be restored if the Act is repealed. Miners are also concerned about the Act’s pre-existing condition provision.

United Mine Workers communications director Phil Smith said the nature of the work makes every retired miner a “walking basket of pre-existing conditions.”


Rebecca Kiger

On a recent gray winter morning Tomas Green drove the rain slick streets of Ranson in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. No matter the weather, Green helps transport clients working through addiction at the Jefferson Day Report Center get to their treatment sessions and meetings.

“If they need rides, I use my own personal transportation sometimes,” he said.

As a Peer Coach for the center, he strives to go above and beyond for the clients. Green can relate to his passengers: He’s in recovery himself.

His experience taught him recovery can be difficult. And now he wants to help others stay on the right path.

“For me, I share with everybody it’s good to have a good support system.”

Kentucky Hospital Assoc.

Since the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act the health care sector has grown by more than 19,000 jobs in the Ohio Valley region. And some economists who focus on health care policy are warning that many of those jobs could well hang in the balance as Congress considers changes to the Act.

One of the ACA’s effects in the Ohio Valley region has been to sharply reduce costs for what’s called uncompensated care — that’s the cost of caring for the uninsured.

Dustin Pugel is an economist at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, a nonpartisan research center. He said in Kentucky’s rural hospitals there’s been about a $150 million decrease in uncompensated care costs just in the first quarter after Medicaid expansion. He worries that if the ACA is repealed more people will lose their health insurance, and hospitals will have to cover that cost again.

  

Stephen George

After President Donald Trump cited Gov. Matt Bevin’s claim that the Affordable Care Act is “unsustainable and collapsing” in Kentucky during his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night, former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear delivered the official Democratic response: Don’t dismantle Obamacare.

“You and your Republican allies in Congress seem determined to rip affordable health insurance away from millions of Americans who most need it,” Beshear said during his speech, which was broadcast from a diner in Lexington.

“Does the Affordable Care Act need some repairs? Sure it does,” Beshear said. “But so far, every Republican idea to replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered, despite your promises to the contrary.”

Alix Mattingly

Gov. Matt Bevin said Monday despite praise for Kentucky’s embrace of the Affordable Care Act in recent years, the initiative has been an “abject failure” in the state.

“Kentucky, which has long been vaunted as an example of the opposite, I’m telling you as a matter of fact has been an unmitigated disaster,” Bevin said at a news conference after governors attended an event with President Trump.

Bevin has long opposed the Affordable Care Act, which made more people eligible for Medicaid in Kentucky and created a state exchange, Kynect, for people to purchase health insurance.

Courtesy Mountain Comprehensive Care

Mike Caudill runs Mountain Comprehensive Care Corporation in five eastern Kentucky counties. Many of his 30,000 patients gained insurance through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. No one knows if or when those folks might lose coverage. But, Caudill said, the impact could be considerable.

“I don’t want to be a Chicken Little that the sky is falling. On the other hand, neither do I want to stick my head in the sand,” he said. “A lot of it is the unknown. We don’t know what is going to happen.”

Caudill runs federally qualified health centers, providing primary and preventive care such as doctor’s visits and vaccinations. They also support community programs including a day care and a service providing fresh fruits and vegetables to 700 people who are chronically ill. If there are significant changes in his revenue because of a repeal of the ACA, Caudill said, those programs that improve the quality of life in the community would be the first to go.

Becca Schimmel

  Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who  is pushing a plan to replace the federal Affordable Care Act,  Paul met with medical professionals at a Bowling Green hospital Monday to discuss his health care ideas.

Medical professionals gathered at TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital for an invitation only, town hall style meeting to hear details about Sen. Paul’s replacement plan. The Bowling Green Republican is proposing a tax credit of up to $5,000 per person to use as part of a Health Savings Account. His plan would also remove the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that every American get coverage.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul introduced a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday that would do away with the law’s major reforms, including the requirement to have health insurance or pay a penalty and the ban on insurers refusing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.

Under the proposal, people wouldn’t be required to get health insurance, nor would employers be required to offer it. Instead, groups of people and small employers could come together to form “independent health pools” to negotiate rates.

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