Politics & Government

Bevin blasts Beshears in radio interview, defends his Medicaid plan

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Herald-Leader

Gov. Matt Bevin said Thursday that former Gov. Steve Beshear is “an embarrassment” to the state and his law firm and that his son, Attorney General Andy Beshear, opposes him because “it’s clearly genetic.”

The Republican governor also vigorously defended his new Medicaid plan, taking issue with critics of it.

Bevin’s comments came during a live interview Thursday morning with host Leland Conway on Louisville’s 840 WHAS radio show.

In response, former Gov. Beshear said in an email, “As a lifelong Kentuckian who gave over 30 years of public service to the people of this state, I have always worked to bring people together. As governor, even when there were disagreements on issues, we were able to have respectful and healthy discussion.

“Kentucky would be better off if Gov. Bevin followed that philosophy and realized that name-calling and insults do nothing to help Kentucky’s families.”

Attorney General Beshear said in an email that he has publicly disagreed with Bevin but has never attacked him personally. “His comments are beneath the dignity of that office. Kentuckians deserve better.”

During the interview with Conway, Bevin was asked about the former Democratic governor’s criticism of the new Medicaid plan Bevin unveiled Wednesday.

Save Kentucky Healthcare, an advocacy group spearheaded by Beshear, claimed Bevin has “declared war on Kentucky’s working families” by taking away health benefits, increasing costs and adding requirements to keep health coverage.

Beshear expanded the state’s Medicaid rolls during his administration by about 440,000 people but Bevin said it is not sustainable and his new plan, which he says is designed to create healthier Kentuckians, is needed. He is seeking federal approval of it.

Bevin said Beshear, an attorney, is “an embarrassment” to Kentucky and the law firm of Stites & Harbison, where he now works.

“Steve Beshear, I don’t know what, he’s an interesting fellow,” said Bevin. “He doesn’t seem to realize he’s not the governor any more. He’s trying so desperately to stay in the spotlight.”

Bevin accused the former governor of trying to “undermine what’s best for Kentucky.”

Bevin noted that much of the opposition to his plan focuses on imposing monthly premiums for “able-bodied” adults of $1 to $15 based on income levels.

He said his plan eliminates co-payments and that the cost of premiums in it will be minimal. “These people that are outraged that people can’t pay a dollar, baloney. That’s a cop-out. Bunk.”

Bevin said “these very same people seem to find money for tattoos and cell phones.” He added that he does not begrudge people from buying such items but people need to be more responsible.

Bevin also was asked about legal challenges filed against him by Attorney General Beshear. The younger Beshear is taking Bevin to court for his mid-year university budget cuts and recent revamping of the University of Louisville board and Kentucky Retirement Systems board.

Bevin first said of the attorney general’s actions, “It’s clearly genetic.”

He said the state’s chief law enforcement official is “in over his head” and that he has 86 attorneys in his office “taxpayers are paying for” to sue the state.

“We are funding his shenanigans,” said Bevin, adding that Beshear’s father used the same constitutional authority he is using as governor to make changes in various boards and commissions.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics