Photo: Joe Davis, Matt Bevin, and Kim Davis
Over the past few months, Kentuckians have been inundated with ads for their potential new governor, Democrat Jack Conway or Republican Matt Bevin (Technically, there was a third, independent candidate named Drew Curtis, but I honestly wasn’t even aware he was running until the day of – his social media campaign may have been a bit too guerilla.). While I was concerned about Conway as the potential governor (He was pretty vague on most issues.), I still knew that he was a better choice than Bevin. Bevin had stated that he wants to defund the expanded Medicaid in Kentucky, withdrawing insurance from the almost half a million people who now have access. He publically supported Kim Davis in her decision to withhold people’s rights. He repeatedly lies about his taxes and interviews. He wants to repeal the Common Core and further impair Kentuckians’ education. He doesn’t seem to believe in climate change. He thinks that dogfighting and cockfighting are good, old-fashioned leisure activities. The list goes on and on.
And yet, by a margin of over 80,000 votes (almost 9 points), Matt Bevin just became our state’s newest governor.
What. The. Fuck. Kentucky.
When I heard the news, I was devastated. Kentucky’s expanded Medicaid problem is one of the most successful ones out there, and its Kynect program (which helps people sign up) is a model for other states to emulate. Almost a half a million people (I cannot overstress this amount.) have signed up for insurance using it in the approximately two years it’s been active – and it’s not costing the state a dime, nor will it for at least another year. What makes it worse is that the people using Medicaid and expanded Medicaid the most are from eastern Kentucky counties/Appalachia. These people are our most vulnerable and at-risk groups with a host of mental, physical, economic, and psychological issues. And yet because they are so conservative, so religious, and so anti-Obama, they are also the ones most likely to have voted for Bevin (Though, as this almost all red map shows, not the only ones.). Kentucky has literally voted against its own interests.
I cannot overstate how upset this makes me. I am deeply worried for all those on expanded Medicaid, including a family member. Hell, until my job was expanded to full time last year, I was on expanded Medicaid. It was crucial to getting me the medical help I needed after my time in the Peace Corps and helping me get over the flu and gastroenteritis. If I hadn’t been able to get expanded Medicaid, I would currently be in thousands of dollars of medical debt – as would my family member, who had a procedure done this past year as well as chronic illnesses. What about all the people suffering from addictions? What about all the sufferers from the coal industry who aren’t fortunate enough to be taken care of? What about the kids born into poverty and food scarcity? What about our seniors who cannot afford their own insurance? What will they do?
At this point, I only have one hope: that Bevin will not prove to be as sociopathic as he has promised to be. At the very least, he needs to maintain Kynect and expanded Medicaid. He doesn’t have to like it – many governors and statesmen don’t but they’re still utilizing it – but he needs to understand that it is the best choice for his people. He needs to take the trust that thousands of Kentuckians placed in him and honor it by placing their physical and mental wellbeing above his own political agenda.
And if he doesn’t? Thousands will suffer. Literally.
* Photo taken from Matt Bevin’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/mattbevinforkentucky/photos/pb.413717352077915.-2207520000.1446754095./855125007937145/?type=3&theater