Following a surge in last-minute applications, Gov. Steve Beshear announced Tuesday that the state will extend its deadline. People will be able to file for health insurance from April 4 to April 11.Wait, they can do that? Other states should follow suit!
The official deadline had been midnight March 31. Gwenda Bond, spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said 21,000 people signed up over the weekend, including 12,000 people who signed up Monday. The deadline affected only those signing up for private health insurance, because those eligible for Medicaid can apply at any time.
Prior to the ACA, there were about 640,000 uninsured in Kentucky. Thanks to the law, 370,000 have now enrolled, 293,000 signed up for Medicaid, the other 77,000 for private insurance. That's 370,000 people who McConnell wants to strip of their newfound insurance.
In the last off-year Senate election in Kentucky, there were 1.35 million voters. Rand Paul won that race with 775,000 votes, to 600,000 votes for Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway.
We don't know how many of these newly insured 370,000 Kentuckians voted in 2010, but in raw numbers, ACA beneficiaries are now about 27 percent of that 2010 electorate, and they (and their families, friends, and co-workers) have extra motivation to protect the program.
With this extension, Democratic governor Steve Beshear is looking to grow that pool even more. There is certainly altruism involved—there is still a need to insure hundreds of thousands of people in the state. But if it comes with a side-serving of good politics as well? Why, no problem with that!
Republicans didn't need to stand against this. They could've been good negotiating partners along the entire way. Heck, Democrats adopted a Heritage Foundation-designed plan as a good-will gesture to bring them aboard. And still they refused.
So if helping people means hurting Republican electoral chances, so be it. They made their bed.