Sunday, November 15, 2015

Bevin's plan to scale back Medicaid didn't hurt him in Republican counties with high percentages of population on Medicaid

Gov.-elect Matt Bevin vowed to scale back the state's Medicaid expansion, but that didn't seem to hurt him much in counties with a high percentage of Medicaid recipients, as they voted strongly for the Republican, Transylvania University political scientist Andrea Malji found.

"The larger the Medicaid numbers, the more likely they were to back Bevin," John Cheves reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. "The lower the Medicaid numbers, the more likely they were to favor the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Jack Conway. . . . This was true even in traditional Democratic Party strongholds, such as Pike and Breathitt counties."

In Malji's native Pulaski County, a Republican stronghold where Bevin got 72 percent of the vote, she heard people "denounce 'Obamacare' while thousands rushed to sign up with Kynect," the state exchange where people can sign up for Medicaid or buy subsidized insurance policies, Cheves writes. "They didn't seem to realize that Kynect, Kentucky's response to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, is the same thing as Obamacare, she said."

Majli told Cheves, "There's either voter disconnect here, where the people weren't thinking about or weren't aware of Bevin's stance on health care, or these counties just have higher levels of social conservatives who thought it was more important to vote on social issues."

In smaller but even more Republican Owsley County, 70 percent of the voters chose Bevin though 66 percent are on Medicaid. Democratic Judge-Executive Cale Turner "said the election results didn't surprise him," Cheves reports/ "His constituents wanted to express their opposition to Democratic President Barack Obama and what they perceive as 'the liberal agenda' on social issues, Turner said..

Turner told Cheves, "A lot of folks in Owsley County went to the polls and voted against gay marriage and abortion, and as a result, I'm afraid they voted away their health insurance -- which was their right to do, I guess. But it's sad. Many people here signed up with Kynect, and it's helped them, it's been an absolute blessing."

Lisa Botner, 36, told Cheves that she recently got a Medicaid card for herself and her 7-year-old son so she can get doctor visits and blood tests for her hyperthyroidism, but voted for Bevin because "I'm just a die-hard Republican."

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