One reason for that is that Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear has been aggressive in rolling out both the exchange marketplace as well as Medicaid expansion. As a result, well over 300,000 Kentuckians are now covered through the law, 75 percent of whom did not have insurance prior to enrolling.
McConnell's pro-repeal position would take insurance away from each of those people—as well as the people who have yet to sign up. That would be a big deal: Already, 1 in 13 Kentuckians have health insurance through Obamacare and the number is growing. Kicking them all off the health coverage would be the most tragic Obamacare horror story imaginable—but it's what McConnell wants to do.
But as powerful an argument as that will be in November's election, it's not the only devastating critique of McConnell's position. As David Nir wrote in today's Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest, Obamacare contains a provision that is delivering Federal benefits to black lung victims. The provision was written by former Sen. Robert C. Byrd, but it isn't just for West Virginia, where it's become a campaign issue.
That's because coal miners in Kentucky, like West Virginia, continues to suffer from black lung disease. In fact, the reported rate of the disease among Kentucky coal miners is the highest in the nation, twice that of West Virginia.
Thanks to Obamacare, those coal miners (and their families) now have a much easier time getting benefits to deal with their disease. Before Obamacare, the burden was on them to prove that they contracted the disease through their work thanks to a change in the law ushered in by President Reagan in 1981. That might not seem like a huge burden, but in reality it made it extremely difficult for many black lung disease victims to get aide. Under Obamacare, the miner is assumed to have gotten black lung from their work.
That change in the law is the difference between miners actually getting benefits and them getting the cold shoulder. And if Mitch McConnell gets his way and the law is repealed, the cold shoulder is exactly what they will get. If he has to explain that position in the fall, he might look back on the web ads celebrating Duke's national championship as the good old days.