- The Washington Times - Friday, December 11, 2015

More than 70 percent of Kentuckians don’t want Gov.-elect Matt Bevin to scale back the state’s Medicaid program, according to a survey released Friday that paints a complex portrait of Obamacare politics as the Republican takes charge.

The Kaiser Family Foundation says 72 percent of state residents would leave the federal-state insurance program alone, while only 20 percent would reform it so that fewer people are covered.

Mr. Bevin defeated his Democratic opponent on a platform of dismantling the Affordable Care Act where he can, even though Kentucky has seen the second-highest drop in its uninsured rate among all states since the law took root in 2014.

Mr. Bevin planned to reel in or at least amend the state’s decision under Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, to expand Medicaid to those making 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Yet even 54 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of those who voted for Mr. Bevin would lay off the Medicaid program, which has covered 425,000 more state residents since the expansion took effect.

Though Kentucky has been held up as an Obamacare success story, residents are more likely to have negative views about the law than positives ones, 41-49 percent — a finding that helps to explain Mr. Bevin’s electoral success despite good vibes about the health law’s main coverage provisions.

Mr. Bevin also wants to ditch the state’s Obamacare website, Kynect, and use the federal HealthCare.gov exchange instead.

Slightly more than half of those surveyed would like to keep the state’s exchange, while about a quarter want to switch to the federal portal, according to Kaiser.

Kentucky is one of a dozen states, plus D.C., that maintains its own exchange, where people can compare private plans and qualify for government subsidies that make them more affordable.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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