I read with amusement your recent editorial twisting the facts of the disastrous Affordable Care Act. As much as this newspaper loves to root for Obamacare, the fact remains that most Kentuckians oppose it, and for good reason.
For starters, the law has resulted in less coverage, causing 280,000 Kentuckians to lose the health insurance plans they already have. It's taking away many Kentuckians' ability to visit the doctors and hospitals they like. And it will increase health care costs and add so many new enrollees to Medicaid (read: paid for by taxpayers) that even Gov. Steve Beshear told The Paducah Sun in early 2011, "I have no idea how we're going to pay for it."
In short, Obamacare is a failure.
The president has apologized for misleading Americans, but his announcement doesn't even come close to fixing the problems that so many Kentuckians are facing right now as a result of canceled health care plans and skyrocketing premiums. But it does represent the clearest acknowledgment yet that his oft-repeated pledge "if you like your plan, you can keep it" was false all along.
Your editorial also distorts the facts of my record of standing up for Medicare in the U.S. Senate that I am pleased to correct. I strongly support Medicare and opposed Obamacare's more than $700 billion raid on Medicare to pay for this new and failed entitlement program.
I'm glad this newspaper is behind the Medicare prescription drug benefit — I actually voted to create the program in 2003 so seniors would never again have to face such a drastic choice as between medicine or food.
The program allows seniors to purchase prescription drug coverage more cheaply and provides a helping hand to those who cannot afford their drugs on their own. And unlike Obamacare, it is a popular program with bipartisan support that is less costly than predicted when it was created.
Even Obamacare's attempt to address the Medicare "donut hole" problem is broken — helping a select few (roughly only one in eight seniors) while passing higher insurance costs along to millions more Americans.
As for the many young adults in Kentucky who have gained health insurance through their parents' plans, I'm glad they have coverage. But such a simple change doesn't require a 2,700-page law, $1 trillion in new taxes and a reordering of one-sixth of our national economy. And I'm concerned that the millions of young adults who don't have that option will see their premiums spike as long as they are forced into the Obamacare exchanges.
Then there are the thousands of Kentuckians in the commonwealth's high-risk pools, many of them with pre-existing conditions and suffering from serious medical problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Kentucky's high-risk pools have proven popular, and these folks benefit from this coverage and many want to keep it.
Unfortunately, that will no longer be possible under Obamacare. Nearly all of them will lose their coverage at the end of the year because the federal government thinks they belong in Obamacare instead — no matter what they think.
And it's not just because they're losing their plans, and all the hassle and complication that involves. For many of these folks, the plans they're being forced into have more limited hospital and doctor networks than the plans they currently have.
Understandably, many of these Kentuckians are upset that someone else is making their health care decisions for them.
Most Kentuckians who don't work on the Herald-Leader editorial board have learned that Obamacare is broken beyond repair.
The best way to provide coverage to Kentuckians is to repeal it and implement step-by-step, patient-centered reforms that will really drive down costs and allow people the choices they want.