In a stunning reversal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) suggested on Friday that he would not support repealing Kynect, Kentucky’s state-run health care exchange. The marketplace has been a model for effective Affordable Care Act implementation, enrolling over 400,000 people in health insurance coverage since October.
McConnell reiterated his support for repealing the Affordable Care Act at a press conference in Louisville, Kentucky, but would not say if Kentuckians enrolled in coverage should lose insurance. Responding to questions from WHAS reporter Joe Arnold about whether the state’s exchange should be dismantled, McConnell said, “I think that’s unconnected to my comments about the overall question here.”
The answer is in stark contrast to McConnell’s past pledges to repeal the law “root and branch” and claims that reform is “not fixable.” Still, this isn’t the first time McConnell or his allies have sought to soften the senator’s stance on the Affordable Care Act. In February, ads released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on McConnell’s behalf portrayed the Senate Minority Leader as “leading the fight to fix this Obamacare mess” without mentioning the words “replace” or “repeal.” Since the end of the first open enrollment period, a growing number of Republican candidates have avoided discussing outright repeal or answering questions about their states’ Medicaid expansion proposals.
McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, opposes taking away Obamacare coverage from those who have it, but would not say if she would have voted for the health care law when it passed in 2010.
McConnell’s spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) responds to McConnell: “Eliminating ACA means that folks with pre-existing conditions will struggle to find coverage, young adults won’t be able to stay on their parents’ coverage, women won’t be treated equally by insurers and federal subsidies for Kentuckians will end. Senator McConnell either doesn’t understand what the ACA is, or is just trying to mislead Kentucky families for his political benefit at their expense.”