A Republican governor who had to back down from his own vows to dismantle Obamacare in his state is siding with congressional conservatives like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who say GOP leadership is not going far enough in its bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“Sen. Paul … is not impressed with what has currently been offered,” Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY) told reporters Friday, according to the Associated Press. “Truth be told, I’m not either. So I’m with him.”
Paul and other conservatives object to some of the replacement provisions, like refundable tax credits, that leadership has placed in the repeal bill, and have argued that Republicans should vote on a “clean” repeal akin to the 2015 bill they passed but which was vetoed by President Obama. The potential replacement plans can then be brought up separately, argue conservatives, including Paul, who introduced his own ACA alternative. The conservatives also want to speed up the sunset period of Medicaid expansion, which the leadership bill would begin to wind down in 2020.
It’s a little awkward that Bevin is bashing the leadership’s legislation, known as the American Health Care Act, given that Vice President Mike Pence is traveling to Kentucky this weekend to promote it (though Bevin did say that he will tell Pence “we support their effort to fix this problem,” according to the AP.)
It’s also a little ironic that Bevin is criticizing other Republicans for recalibrating their repeal promises once they are in power. Bevin kicked off his campaign for governor of Kentucky, a Medicaid expansion state, in 2015 with a promise to uproot Obamacare in the state in every way possible. Over the course of the race he softened that stance, particularly in regards to the Medicaid expansion, which had extended coverage to 400,000 Kentuckians. He ultimately sought to maintain the expansion and apply for a waiver with the Obama administration to change the program instead. For the first year of his term he and the administration were in a back and forth about whether he could impose work requirements, cost sharing and other obstacles for Medicaid recipients. The Trump administration will likely be more amenable to those requests.