Politics
12:47 pm
Wed May 28, 2014

Alison Lundergan Grimes Inching Towards Obamacare Defense

Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes

The campaign manager for Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is blasting Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell for saying Kentucky's health exchange is unconnected to the Affordable Care Act.

"Mitch McConnell has been in the fantasyland that is Washington for so long that he cannot tell the difference between fact and fiction," says Grimes campaign manager Jonathan Hurst.

Last Friday, McConnell repeated his call to repeal the president's health care law at a recent press conference.

But the GOP leader drew the ire of Democrats for suggesting the state health exchange, KyNect, wasn't related to the federal overhaul.

"I think that's unconnected to my comments about the overall question here," McConnell said.

Approximately 415,000 Kentucky residents have signed up for health insurance through KyNect, which was created as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Many have pointed out that despite the McConnell campaign's suggestion, the state exchange would "collapse" if the law were repealed.

"McConnell has voted to destroy Kynect—and he has said he will do it again," Hurst said in a statement. "In the U.S. Senate, Alison Lundergan Grimes will fix the law to ensure it is working for all Kentuckians."

Hurst's comments are the closest Grimes's team has come to defending Obamacare—aka KyNect—since entering the race last summer. Up to this point Grimes has refused to say whether she would have voted for the Affordable Care Act back in 2010.

But the health care law is also presenting McConnell's team with some rhetorical trouble.

Asked what happens to the 400,000 people who have enrolled if the law is repeal, McConnell senior adviser Josh Holmes said via Twitter that KyNect is "not the insurer" but simply the "state marketplace."

The debate is a further extension of how branding has made Obamacare difficult for Republicans and Democrats in Kentucky to discuss.

The polling shows when the reforms are called "KyNect" more registered voters in the state hold a favorable view of its benefits. But when it's dubbed "Obamacare" a majority—57 percent—hold an unfavorable opinion.

Asked what fixes Grimes favors specifically, campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton pointed to a voter guide comment by the candidate where she said lawmakers "must investigate and address the botched national roll-out, offer relief to small businesses, make sure individuals can keep their current plans, and address affordability issues."

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