Gov. Steve Beshear on health care law: ‘Everybody needs to chill out’

syoungman@herald-leader.comOctober 27, 2013 

Gov. Steve Beshear showed off new Kynect health exchange kiosks at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, in Lexington. Hospitals maysign up to inform people about their health insurance options; most Lexington hospitals have.

MARK CORNELISON — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

Gov. Steve Beshear returned to Washington this weekend, telling a national news show that he guarantees the success of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Beshear, one of the nation’s most vocal advocates for the law, counseled patience on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” pledging “it is going to work.”

Beshear jumped into the national spotlight after deciding to set up Kentucky’s own online health insurance exchange instead of deferring to the federal program. The state’s site has been hailed nationally as a success since launching Oct. 1, even as the national website has been maligned and ridiculed for continuing problems.

As Kentucky’s Republican Senators bash the federal health law, Beshear has become a key ally to President Barack Obama. On Sunday, he defended Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“I’m not going to give the president advice on hiring and firing,” Beshear said. “But you know what? When things go wrong, like they go wrong in our state, I take responsibility and I fix it. And that’s what Secretary Sebelius and the president are doing.”

Beshear appeared on the show with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose state did not set up its own health care exchange. Kasich criticized “Obamacare” as Beshear defended Affordable Care Act and boasted of what he sees as the enormous success of Kentucky’s program.

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, 26,174 Kentuckians had enrolled in new health insurance using the exchange. Of those, 21,342 had enrolled in Medicaid and 4,832 had enrolled in a qualified health plan.

Beshear, who was repeatedly pressed by moderator David Gregory to discuss the national exchange instead of Kentucky’s, said the president’s law will work.

“People are going to sign up for this,” Beshear said. “It’ll take us a while to get it in process, but I’ll guarantee you we’re going to make it work because it’s good for the American people and it’s good for Kentucky.”

To the law’s critics, Beshear advised they “take a deep breath.”

“Look, this is going to take some time to get done, but everybody needs to chill out because it is going to work,” the governor said.

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