Letter to the editor: Challenger responds to Mayfield column

Published 10:42 am Tuesday, October 4, 2016

To the editor:

As an assistant county attorney and small business owner, I care deeply for this community and for the future of Clark County. Recently my opponent wrote a column expressing her views on health care and the future of the 73rd District. I feel that everyone is entitled to their own opinions but you are not entitled to your own facts.

My opponent claims that Kynect and the Medicaid expansion are “failed policies.” The truth is that both Kynect and the expansion of Medicaid have been a success which have reduced the percentage of uninsured Kentuckians from 18.8 percent to 6.8 percent. This is one of the largest reductions in the nation and has dramatically improved the health of Kentuckians. Unlike my opponent I think it is a good thing for people to have health insurance. I believe that insuring 500,000 Kentuckians, who are now able to receive medical care and preventive treatment, is a positive development and one that deserves recognition.

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Next, in her column my opponent claims that the Medicaid expansion has somehow robbed “essential government services like education and public pensions.” The truth is that Kentucky has not paid for any of the expense of the Medicaid expansion, which has been paid for entirely from federal funds. In fact, the state budget will only be responsible for five cents of every dollar in medical care provided under the Medicaid expansion in 2017. By 2020 that number will increase to 10 cents of every dollar in expenses. Even these expenses will be countered by new jobs, a healthier workforce and reduced spending on emergency care. Independent studies have found that Kentucky will save an estimated $820 million, net of costs, from 2014-21 as a result of the Medicaid expansion.

Finally, my opponent claims that she voted against “Obamacare” and that Kynect is a double-down on the federal exchange. The truth is that a state representative is not a U.S. congressman and does not vote on federal laws. What my opponent did vote to do was forfeit Kentucky’s right to have some measure of control over its health insurance and attempt to allow Washington bureaucrats to dictate how insurance can be bought in Kentucky. While I believe that the Affordable Care Act is imperfect, I believe that it is best to keep control on a local level instead of allowing the federal government to control local decisions. Kynect allowed Kentuckians effective access to the health insurance marketplace and did so cheaper than any service offered by the federal government.

Clark and Madison counties face serious issues about how we improve the health of our citizens and how we deal with the pension crisis. It is unfortunate that during the past six years, there has not been leadership in the 73rd District proposing a solution to how we can address the pension crisis. Unfortunately, my opponent in her column engages in partisan politics and finger pointing (the truth is the Republican-controlled Senate also ignored the pension crisis for too many years) instead of offering real solutions. In fact my opponent failed to even vote in 2015 on proposals to addresses the teacher pension crisis and failed to vote on the 2016 budget bill which she now claims credit for.

Fixing Kentucky’s pensions will require a long-term funding commitment, wise investment choices and increased transparency in how pension decisions are made. This is an important issue as every dollar spent to secure pensions is a dollar that cannot be used for roads, economic development or our schools.

The issues affecting us are serious and deserve real leadership. We have too many babies born in this community going through drug withdrawals, too many children unable to pursue or afford higher education, and too few good paying jobs. I want to work to address those issues and to find real solution, not empty talking points.

John M. Hendricks, Winchester

Note: Hendricks is a candidate for state representative and is running against incumbent Donna Mayfield for the 73rd District seat, which includes Clark County and a portion of Madison County.