The Bluegrass Institute on Kentucky Tonight—Healthcare

KyresizedBluegrass Institute president and CEO Jim Waters joined a panel on KET’s Kentucky Tonight this week to discuss the Affordable Care Act — often referred to as Obamacare — and it’s proposed replacement, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed by a thin 217-213 margin. The U.S. Senate has yet to act on the bill.

Waters, who previously called the AHCA “a RINO bill” — repeal in name only — noted the bill is not a full-scale repeal and replacement of Obamacare, but rather a tweaking of a few of its provisions.

He called it “Santa Claus politics,” keeping “a lot of the goodies in there, in terms of the subsidies and the handouts.”

Overall, he warns the bill “keeps many of the things the Obamacare plan had.”

One positive aspect of the bill, he said, is its allowance for states to apply for federal waivers, which will bring at least some of “the management and administration of healthcare dollars … back to the states,” which are better able to determine the needs of their own citizens than Washington’s huge federal bureaucracy.

Waters also took aim once again with Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid approach, which has greatly increased Kentuckians’ dependency on a government program for their health-care coverage.

“Medicaid was never intended to provide healthcare for one out of three Kentuckians,” Waters said, reiterating that the size of Medicaid needs to be shrunk so that the program can be put back on a sustainable path, while implementing more innovative ideas on providing health care for lower-income Americans and Kentuckians.

Others appearing on the program included Lexington Dr. Cameron Schaeffer, a pediatric urologist in Lexington, Dr. Barbara Casper, who teaches at the University of Louisville and Dustin Pugel from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

“I’ve had a problem with Obamacare not only as a doctor but as an American” because it contravenes the American values of individualism, freedom and property rights, Schaeffer said.

One of the ways to mitigate the effects of increased numbers of sick and elderly beneficiaries is to share risk by incorporating younger, healthier people. However, Obamacare has discouraged the potential involvement of younger enrollees “by pooling young people into policies that are mandated to cover problems that old people get, and they can’t afford it,” he said.

The federal mandate for extensive coverage raises prices, making insurance “untenable” for young people, he said.

Watch the full program here.

Amy Searl is working with The Bluegrass Institute through the Koch Internship Program.