Politics
8:30 am
Thu April 3, 2014

As Kentucky Enrollees Rise Don't Expect Alison Lundergan Grimes to Embrace Health Care Law

Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky
Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky
Credit Creative Commons

Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes isn't likely to embrace the Affordable Care Act even as Kentucky is being heralded for a high volume of enrollees.

Earlier this week, Gov. Steve Beshear's office announced over 370,000 people have signed up thus far.

That includes over a quarter of a million Kentuckians who will be insured for the first time ever thanks to the law.

Some observers argue that gives Grimes a clear path to go on the offensive against Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell in the fall campaign.

Asked if Grimes is encouraged by the newly-insured figure, senior campaign adviser Jonathan Hurst remained loyal to previous talking points about its ongoing problems.

"What we've said all along is that obviously KyNect has been successful across Kentucky, but that the law isn't perfect and that what we need are common sense solutions," he said. "What Alison has always said is Democrats and Republicans need to come together to fix the law. Obviously any good news is good news."

Liberal proponents have been saying for months that the health care law won't be a liability for Democrats in the mid-terms as President Obama declared the debate is over.

Others, such as Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth of Louisville, have predicted GOP efforts to repeal the law will backfire as people begin to receive health care coverage and its benefits. But McConnell and his allies have made a four year investment of attacks against President Obama and his signature law, and their political economy expects a hefty return.

As McConnell adviser Josh Holmes put it:

A Quinnipiac poll found bears some of that out, showing 40 percent of Americans say they are less likely to vote for a candidate who supports Obamacare outright. Those same voters are evenly split on whether the law is more likely (27 percent) or will have no affect (31 percent) on backing a candidate this fall.

The National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee gleefully pointed out that few Democrats joined president's rallying cry in the Rose Garden to celebrate the law crossing the 7 million enrollee threshold.

Other surveys show Kentuckians do support key provisions of the law, such as expanding Medicare.

Yet the best defense Kentucky Democrats offer—outside of Yarmuth and the governor—has been a cynical rebranding effort to call it "Beshear Care" that acknowledges the president's unpopularity. Grimes doesn't even mention the health care law on her campaign website.

Does she plan to ever embrace the Affordable Care Act over the next eight months? Not likely.

"It's a compliment to Governor Beshear in the state," Hurst told WFPL when asked. "But the law isn't perfect and it does need to be fixed. It's something where Democrats and Republicans should come together and fix the parts of the Affordable Care Act that aren't perfect."

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