mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“An Unhealthy Dose Of Politics”: Gov Matt Bevin Is Letting His Dislike For The President Blind Him To The Success Of Kynect

The New York Times reports that Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has informed the Obama administration that he intends to shut down his state’s health insurance exchange. The move will mean that Kentuckians will have to seek health insurance from the federal exchange. The newly-elected Republican governor may also make changes to the state’s Medicaid expansion program. Both moves would fulfill promises that Bevin made on the campaign trail last year.

Health insurance exchanges were established by the Affordable Care Act to serve as a marketplace for individuals who are not covered by the employer-based market. While the law envisioned that these exchanges would be run entirely by the states, in practice there are only 13 state-based exchanges, including the one in Washington, D.C. The rest of the states rely, either in part or entirely, on the federal exchange, Healthcare.gov.

Of the states that chose to run their own exchanges, Kentucky was doing well. The state’s exchange, known as Kynect, has in fact been lauded as one of Obamacare’s best success stories. The Washington Post reports that since it launched, Kynect has cut Kentucky’s uninsured rate in half. While some other states have struggled in their efforts to establish their own state-based exchange, Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, told the New York Times that “Kynect is working perfectly, and it’s been good for Kentucky.”

If the exchange had not been successful in reducing the state’s uninsured, Bevin’s plan would be justified. However, given Kynect’s effectiveness, Bevin’s plan to dismantle it makes little sense. His decision is driven purely by political motives and not with the welfare of his constituents in mind. Although the Obama administration has promised a “seamless” transition to Healthcare.gov for those who receive coverage through Kynect, there are still bound to be disruptions in coverage. For some, that disruption in coverage could be devastating.

Taking Kynect apart will also cost the state money. According to the Times, the previous governor’s administration estimated it will cost “at least $23 million” to shut it down. There’s also the question of unused grant money, approximately $57 million, which Kentucky might have to repay to the federal government. In contrast, leaving the exchange in place would provide consistency and predictability for its customers and allow the state to continue building on Kynect’s success, perhaps even lowering the state’s uninsured numbers further.

Unfortunately, Bevin is letting his dislike for the president blind him to the success of Kynect and its benefit to his constituents. Kynect has worked well for Kentucky, and the new governor should keep it in place.

 

By: Cary Gibson, Thomas Jefferson Street Blig, U. S. News and World Report, January 15, 2016

January 16, 2016 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, KyNect, Matt Bevin | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Look No Further Than The Governor’s Race In Kentucky”: The Superficiality Of The Republican Commitment To Racial Justice

Last night in Kentucky, Matt Bevin, a Tea Party-aligned Republican who unsuccessfully attempted to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last year, was elected the state’s second GOP governor since the end of the Civil Rights Movement.

Conservatives are understandably elated. Bevin ran rightward even by Kentucky’s standards. His political career has been forged in the conservative backlash to President Obama, and Bevin supports both federalizing Kentucky’s extremely successful state-based health care exchange, and rescinding the state’s Medicaid expansion, which has brought coverage to over 400,000 poor Kentuckians since 2013. As a candidate for Senate, where his vote would’ve counted, he supported the outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

But amid the euphoria over a victorious politician who wants to roll back the tide of social justice, conservatives are also celebrating their own perceived sense of racial enlightenment. Because though Bevin and most of his supporters are white, his running mate, Lieutenant Governor-elect Jenean Hampton, is black.

In Kentucky we see the general scope of Republican minority outreach in microcosm—the touting of a popular black figurehead juxtaposed against an unrelenting pursuit of policies that harm, and are unpopular with, black voters nationally.

The most apt symbol of this conception of racial tolerance is Ben Carson, who climbed out of poverty to become the most renowned black neurosurgeon in the world. He also sits well to the right of the median Republican primary candidate, which helps explain his surge in the polls. Last week, National Review’s Jonah Golberg wrote a column arguing that Carson is “even more authentically African American than Barack Obama, given that Obama’s mother was white and he was raised in part by his white grandparents.”

Goldberg interprets the fact that a person of such authentic blackness is a popular, conservative member of the Republican Party as a matter of deep significance, when in fact it confirms that the right’s commitment to racial justice has a deeply superficial quality. After a predictable backlash to the blackness scale he contrived, Goldberg revised and extended.

“The Democrats, MSNBC, Salon, et al,” he wrote, “are so invested in their narrative that the GOP is a racist cult that they have trouble dealing with the fact that Ben Carson—a black guy—is arguably the front-runner and certainly the most popular figure in the Republican field (and drawing most of his support from precisely the voters the MSNBC crowd is most convinced are the recrudescent racist heart of the conservative movement). Rather than celebrate this huge step forward in racial progress, or at least think about what it really means, they instead ignore it, dismiss it, or attack my ‘racism’ for pointing it out. Well, to Hell with that game.”

This would fatally undermine the liberal critique of racial politics on the right, if liberals argued that Republicans belonged to a segregated party that espoused hatred for minorities no matter their politics. Instead, Goldberg is celebrating tokenism on the scale of a national, ideological movement.

That Carson is black and popular among Republican primary voters is incontrovertible. It’s also largely beside the point. The question of why Carson is popular on the right is complicated, and surely in part related to his aforementioned conservative politics, his religious devotion, and his hypnotically avuncular demeanor. But it is just as surely related to the fact that Carson absolves conservatives of their coarse and patronizing view of black voters and political leaders. Carson attributes his unpopularity with liberals to the notion that he had the temerity to “come off the plantation.”

Needless to say, the fact that Republican voters like a guy who tells them that other black people—the ones who support Democrats—are like plantation slaves doesn’t harm the liberal critique of conservative racial politics at all. Nor does it cancel out or refute the existence of racism.

The Kentucky poor are now in limbo, though their position is tellingly strengthened by the fact that Kentucky is whiter than the median state. Beneficiaries of the Medicaid expansion there are whiter and more geographically dispersed than in other states. The prologue to their story may come from Arkansas, which declined to rescind its version of the Medicaid expansion, even after voters there replaced a retiring Democratic governor with a Republican.

So there is hope. But there’s also peril.  What distinguishes Kentucky is that its Medicaid expansion was undertaken unilaterally by outgoing Governor Steve Beshear. Though he softened his position during the general election, Bevin could rescind it on his own, without going to the legislature.

If he declines to do so, conservatives will consider it a great setback in their ongoing campaign against the national wave of Medicaid expansion, a campaign that has done disproportionate harm to low-income black people all over the country. And that says far more about the racial politics of their movement than the fact that Kentucky’s incoming lieutenant governor is black herself.

 

By: Brian Beutler, Senior Editor at The New Republic, November 4, 2015

November 7, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Matt Bevin, Medicaid Expansion | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“From GOP ‘Con Man’ To Newly Elected Governor”: Health Coverage For Kentuckians Was On The Line, And They Appear To Have Lost

Under two-term Gov. Steve Beshear (D), Kentucky has been one of the best-run states in the nation. Not only is the Bluegrass State’s unemployment rate at a 14-year low, but Kentucky has been so successful in implementing health care reform, it’s cut its uninsured by over 40%.

Perhaps the state’s voters grew tired of success and decided to go in a different direction.

Voters in Kentucky elected Republican Matt Bevin as governor Tuesday.

Bevin beat Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway. Unofficial results from the Kentucky State Board of Elections had Bevin beating Conway 52.52% to 43.82% with all 120 counties reporting Tuesday night.

Independent Drew Curtis was also on the ballot, and garnered 3.6% support – not enough to affect the overall outcome. Statewide turnout was only about 30%, meaning that over two-thirds of the state’s voters didn’t bother to show up at all.

Bevin’s road to the governor’s office was, for lack of a better word, improbable. A year ago, the right-wing candidate, who’s never served a day in public office, launched a primary fight against incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Republicans quickly labeled Bevin a “con man” who lies “pathologically.” The first-time candidate was exposed a man who lied about his educational background, and who even struggled in the private sector – his business needed a taxpayer bailout.

At one point, he even delivered a speech at a cockfighting gathering and then lied about that, too.

Bevin lost that primary. A year later, he’s a governor-elect.

The smart money bet against him. Indeed, even as this year’s race unfolded, the Tea Partier seemed on track to lose. In September, the Republican Governors Association scaled back its investments in the Kentucky race, and as recently as mid-October, Bevin’s own internal polling showed him trailing.

Complicating matters, the GOP candidate “created a nightmare for Kentucky’s political reporters” by lying – about a wide variety of issues – on an almost habitual basis, and then creating an “enemies list” of journalists who challenged the accuracy of his falsehoods.

And yet, voters in Kentucky yesterday overlooked all of this and handed Bevin a relatively easy victory.

What happens now is likely to have a major impact on many of his constituents’ lives. One of the central tenets of Bevin’s odd platform has been scrapping Medicaid expansion, which would have the effect of taking away health care benefits from many low-income families statewide. And because outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D) used executive orders to create much of the state’s health network, the new right-wing governor-elect will have the power to undermine the health security of a significant chunk of Kentucky’s population rather quickly.

The question is simple: will he? This sets the stage for the the first real test of whether far-right officials are prepared to hurt their own constituents, on purpose, to advance a partisan goal. It’s one thing for Republican state policymakers to block Medicaid expansion from taking effect, but in Kentucky, the Affordable Care Act has already been fully implemented – and it’s working beautifully.

Bevin’s stated goal is to roll back the clock, consequences be damned. Coverage for over 400,000 struggling Kentuckians was on the line in yesterday’s election, and as of last night, they appear to have lost.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 4, 2015

November 5, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Kentucky, Matt Bevin | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

“Never Mind The Law Of The Land”: Defending The God-Given Liberty Of County Clerks To Ignore Duties They Don’t Like

It’s sometimes easy to forget with all the presidential campaign stuff going on, but there will be gubernatorial elections in two states this November, Kentucky and Louisiana. And while the latter may really amount to a bipartisan celebration that Bobby Jindal’s finally leaving the office he’s become bored with as anything other than a presidential campaign prop, the former bids fare to be a good old-fashioned partisan cliffhanger. In a state that’s been trending pretty sharply Republican, however, Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway remains the betting favorite over Republican nominee Matt Bevin, best known as the Tea Party dude who got crushed by Mitch McConnell in a 2014 Senate primary.

But Bevin seems to think he’s found a big vote-pleaser, per the Louisville Courier-Journal‘s Phillip Bailey:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin said during a national conference call Tuesday he fully supports Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis’ right to refuse gay couples seeking marriage licenses.

“I absolutely support her willingness to stand on her First Amendment rights,” he said. “Without any question I support her.”

The strong defense of Davis’ actions underscores how the GOP nominee hopes to make the fight over gay marriage a centerpiece of the 2015 governor’s race, which polling shows is a tight race between him and Democratic nominee Jack Conway.

Conway’s position is that the Supreme Court decision striking down Kentucky’s same-sex marriage ban is the law of the land, and as such everyone, even public officials, should obey it (snark intended). There’s abundant evidence this is the way the wind’s blowing everywhere, which is why most Republican pols have stopped talking about the issue except when they are trapped in some church basement with members of their party base.

Bevin does, however, have a broader vision: like his junior senator, Rand Paul, he’s talking about getting government out of the marriage business altogether.

There’s the obvious problem with this idea, of course, that it strands the many, many policies Republicans favor that are linked to marital status. But beyond that, isn’t it a little drastic to separate marriage from the state when the issue at hand is the tender consciences of county clerks? I mean, perhaps I don’t understand Kentucky, and maybe county clerks there wield unusual power and possess unusual prestige, like sheriffs in Louisiana or water district councils in California. But if not, it may take Bevin a while to explain to regular Kentuckians that they should no longer be in state-sanctioned marriages because some county clerk wants to get paid to do some but not all of her job.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, September 2, 2015

September 3, 2015 Posted by | Jack Conway, Kim Davis, Marriage Equality, Matt Bevin | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“From ‘Con man’ To Governor?”: The Republican Nominee For Governor In The Great State Of Kentucky

A year ago, Matt Bevin was seen as a rather ridiculous figure in Kentucky Republican politics. He’d launched a primary fight against incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), which led the GOP establishment to go after Bevin with a vengeance.

The results weren’t pretty. Bevin was labeled by leaders of his own party as a “con man” who lies “pathologically.” The first-time candidate was exposed as a man who lied about his educational background, and whose business needed a taxpayer bailout. By Primary Day, Bevin lost by 25 points, and his career in politics appeared to be effectively over.

A year later, however, Kentucky Republicans will have to stop calling him a dishonest con man and start calling him their nominee for governor. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported this morning:

After Thursday’s recanvass of votes cast in the Republican primary for governor, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said that there were “no substantial changes” and that she thought Matt Bevin would be the GOP nominee when the vote is certified June 8.

This morning, Bevin’s primary rival conceded the race. Bevin will now take on state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) in November, in the race to replace outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear (D).

McConnell, who characterized Bevin as a dangerous loon just last year, issued a statement this morning that said, “I congratulate Matt Bevin on his victory and endorse him for governor.”

It’s just such an improbable scenario. Even this year, the GOP gubernatorial primary was supposed to come down to state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner. But when the top candidates turned on each other, they ended up tearing each other down, clearing the way for Bevin.

I honestly can’t think of a comparable recent situation in which a state party viciously tore a guy down one year, only to scramble to build him back up less than a year later.

As for whether or not Bevin might actually become governor, we’ll find out soon enough – this has instantly become the most interesting race of 2015 – but as the process continues, I’m reminded of my favorite Matt Bevin story.

In early 2014, as regular readers may recall, Bevin accepted an invitation from the Gamefowl Defense Network and he delivered a speech to several hundred attendees. Asked later for an explanation, the GOP candidate claimed ignorance, saying he thought he was addressing a states’ rights group and had no idea he was speaking to pro-cockfighting activists.

The event’s hosts soon after explained that Bevin’s defense was literally unbelievable: the “entire rally” was devoted to the issue and “there was never any ambiguity” about the point of the gathering organized by the Gamefowl Defense Network.

Bevin told reporters he was “the first speaker” at the event and left before he realized what the Gamefowl Defense Network was up to. It turns out, that wasn’t true – the group’s director was the first speaker and he made it abundantly clear what the gathering was all about.

Bevin also told reporters he didn’t address the issue of cockfighting itself, which also turned out to be untrue – he specifically told attendees at the end, “I support the people of Kentucky exercising their right, because it is our right to decide what it is that we want to do, and not the federal government’s.”

Making matters slight worse, when msnbc originally asked Bevin about his appearance, he argued, “It wasn’t a cockfighting event, that’s where you all need to start telling the truth about what happened.”

Yes, telling the truth about it is important.

Bevin eventually apologized for the whole mess. Now he’s the Republican nominee for governor in the great state of Kentucky.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 29, 2015

June 1, 2015 Posted by | Kentucky, Matt Bevin, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: