by Morgan Watkins, @morganwatkins26 –
Gov. Matt Bevin said in a press conference he will seek permission from the federal government to reshape the federal-state health program that covers about 1.3 million Kentuckians. Michael Clevenger, CJ
U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth criticized Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program during a debate in downtown Louisville Wednesday afternoon, saying he has deliberately submitted a proposal the federal government must reject.
The hour-long debate, which was hosted by the Louisville Forum and held at Vincenzo’s restaurant, pitted Yarmuth against his Republican opponent, political newcomer Harold Bratcher.
When asked about Bevin’s plans to drop kynect, the state health insurance exchange created by former Gov. Steve Beshear, and switch to a federal exchange, Bratcher praised the new governor for looking out for taxpayers.
Yarmuth, however, said there is “absolutely no reason” for Bevin to do that. He said the head of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told him during a hearing that he couldn’t think of a single way that Kentuckians would be better off by shifting to a federal exchange.
Yarmuth also decried Bevin’s request for a waiver that would allow him to make significant changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program.
“He is deliberately putting forward a proposal that the federal government is obliged to reject,” he said. “He knows that.”
Bevin and his staff were told what kind of waiver proposal would be acceptable, Yarmuth said. They deliberately put one together that would be rejected because they want to be able to blame the rejection on President Barack Obama “and then rescind the entire Medicaid expansion,” which would be disastrous for Kentucky.
During Wednesday’s luncheon, Bratcher described himself as a conservative who isn’t a career politician like Yarmuth, who has served in Congress for nearly a decade.
Yarmuth asked Bratcher if he is supporting Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, even though he previously backed Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Bratcher said he will support Trump, reiterating his assertion that career politicians aren’t needed.
Despite their differences, Bratcher and Yarmuth did find common ground on a couple issues. Both men said campaign finance reform is needed, with Bratcher pointing out the difficulty of garnering contributions for campaigns like his where the candidates come from outside the political realm.
Yarmuth and Bratcher also expressed support for expanding background checks for gun sales. Bratcher said he has qualms about prohibiting individuals on the “no-fly list” from purchasing firearms, though, because people don’t know how to get themselves taken off that list.
Reporter Morgan Watkins can be reached at (502) 875-5136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky, talks about the Democrats’ Congressional sit in as a way to protest lack of Republican action in passing gun legislation.