The deeply "red" state of Kentucky -- the folks who put both Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul as in Senate (and, excruciatingly, on our TVs) -- is also the only Southern state that has expanded Medicaid in accordance with the Affordable Care Act.
They also implemented their own ACA online exchange, instead of relying on the Feds.
Kentucky’s experience has been exemplary: In its first day, 10,766 applications for health coverage were initiated, 6,909 completed and 2,989 families were enrolled. Obama himself bragged that Kentucky led the nation with its glitch-minimized performance.
Kentucky's opt-in attitude is the result of their Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, who has done end-arounds on his GOP-lead state Senate and poked his finger in the eye of the Tea Party. Focusing on the moral implications of improving healthcare access for the citizens in his state, Beshear is perfectly willing to tell the national media why he's willing to make ACA compliance a signature accomplishment of his tenure.
“[T]o those more worried about political power than Kentucky’s families, I say, ‘Get over it’…and get out of the way so I can help my people. Here in Kentucky, we cannot afford to waste another day or another life.”
And why is ACA popular in-of-all-places Kentucky? Is it because it gives people an opportunity to buy into their own health security and that of their families? Is it because it's an actual market-based solution -- a Republican idea from a few decades back, polished up and implemented first by Mitt Romney in Connecticut -- that might help lessen the burden on families, small businesses and, ultimately, on state coffers?
Time will tell, but it should be a cautionary tale for "red" state politicians -- such as, oh, Governor Phil Bryant -- who have taken the path of least resistance within their own party and buckled to their Tea Party and Talk Radio constituencies.
If Obamacare works -- especially since it now looks like the GOP is pretty much out of tricks to block it from getting started -- then folks like Phil are going to be on the losing end not just of a moment in political history, but of actually doing the right thing for the citizens of their state.