LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- President Barack Obama is taking the airwaves to criticize Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin over his handling of The Commonwealth’s expansion of the Affordable Care Act.
The President criticizes the Governor's efforts to keep his campaign promise to scrap KYnect and change the Medicaid expansion program during an advertisement for Congressman John Yarmuth.
Representative Yarmuth is an incumbent Democrat in Kentucky’s 3rd US Congressional District.
In the radio advertisement, President Obama says, “Governor Bevin wants to end our Medicaid expansion in Kentucky, leaving more than 400,000 people without healthcare, don’t let him.”
Obama also explains, “The Affordable Care Act has been a national success story and your Congressman, John Yarmuth, is a big reason why.”
The one minute ad airs at a critical time, just 12 days out from an election and Kentuckians on the expanded Medicaid system are set to begin re-enrolling on a federal government site since Governor Bevin fulfilled a campaign promise of dismantling the Kynect website.
Those on the system also are waiting to learn whether the federal government will approve Bevin's proposed waiver of the Medicaid expansion. If the feds deny the request, Governor Bevin has promised to repeal the healthcare plan all-together.
“I am proud of the ad”, insisted Representative Yarmuth. “First of all, I'm proud that the President of the United States thinks enough of me that he'd be willing to do it. And, secondly, I think it's really important to make that case to the people of Kentucky that we've got to be aware of what Governor Bevin is trying to do and do everything we can to stop him.”
Governor Bevin’s Press Secretary, Amanda Stamper, released the following statement:
“It’s a shame that at the same time we negotiate in good faith with President Obama’s administration on our Kentucky HEALTH waiver, Kentucky Democrats have chosen President Obama to be their spokesperson for misleading political ads on this very topic. The healthcare of Kentuckians is too important to be kicked like a political football by President Obama and Kentucky Democrats days before an election. The transition to healthcare.gov will save Kentucky’s taxpayers $10 million a year and Gov. Bevin’s transformative and financially sustainable Medicaid plan, Kentucky HEALTH, will actually improve health outcomes for Kentuckians and encourage self-sufficiency.”
We asked Representative Yarmuth whether he felt he was spreading misinformation about the program.
“Well, no. I don't have it all wrong, I've been working on this healthcare issue and the Affordable Care Act for the past six years, a lot longer than they've even been thinking about it, and was involved in the drafting of part of it. So I'd like to have a truth telling contest about it”, Yarmuth said.
In a time when some Democratic politicians are running away from President Obama, Congressman Yarmuth is proud of his relationship with the Commander in Chief.
“I own my support of President Obama”, said Yarmuth, “and I'm proud of that.”
He added, “Barack Obama is still overwhelmingly popular in this community and, I think, the ad will motivate people to get out and vote on the 8th.”
Governor Bevin ran on an “anti-Obamacare” platform in 2015 when Kentuckians elected him to his first term. The Kentucky GOP also took all but two state offices in an election that surprised pollsters.
Republicans in Kentucky are hoping to overtake the State House of Representatives during the General Election, many have continued to mention President Obama and Hillary Clinton as they campaign across the Bluegrass.
Yarmuth appears to be much better off than many in his party. His district has a large number of Democratic voters, it will be difficult for any Republican to take the seat. All national analysts predict the seat is safe for the Democratic Party. Republican Harold Bratcher is on the ballot trying to prove those analysts wrong.
The strategy behind this ad, Yarmuth admits, was not just to help himself.
“I didn't do it to advance my own political interest”, said Yarmuth. “Yes, I'm running for re-election but I didn't need to run any ads, I don't think. But this was, again, to help drive out turnout because we need to have a huge day in Louisville Metro if Jim Gray is going to have a chance and if we have a chance to win some of these State House races that are so important to us.”
Here is a verbatim of the radio advertisement:
“This is Barack Obama. Over the past few year, Kynect, Kentucky’s version of the Affordable Care Act, provided health insurance to more than half a million Kentuckians. In fact, Kentucky had the largest drop in its uninsured rate of any state in the country. Now Governor Bevin wants to end our Medicaid expansion in Kentucky leaving more than 400,000 people without healthcare, don’t let him. The Affordable Care Act has been a national success story and your Congressman, John Yarmuth, is a big reason why. When I’ve needed to get an important bill through the House, I’ve relied on the smarts and savvy of my friend John. Now, once again, John is standing up to Governor Bevin and doing all he can to save Medicaid in Kentucky. Time and again, John’s been there for me and he’s been there for you. Now I’m asking you, be there for him. Kentuckians need healthcare, Kentuckians need Medicaid and we need fighters like John in Congress. On November 8th, please reelect Congressman John Yarmuth. I’m John Yarmuth and I approved this ad. Paid for by Yarmuth for Congress.”