Connecting federal health law with Obamacare nickname "a lost cause" in Powell County, local Democratic chair says

01/31/2017 07:00 PM

STANTON — More than once a week, Josie Hollon will run into someone in her community who depends on health coverage obtained through the Affordable Care Act and voted for President Donald Trump.

“They will come into the office and say, ‘I don’t want the Obamacare, but I would like the affordable health care,’” said Hollon, an insurance agent and chairwoman of the Powell County Democratic Party.

“But you try to explain it and they are so against that president that they don’t want to talk about that, so we really don’t even mention the Obamacare. It’s just the affordable health care and try to get them to where they do have health coverage and they can get some help with their medical problems.”

The newly inaugurated president made repealing and replacing the federal health law known better by its Obamacare nickname a central tenet of his campaign, and he won Kentucky’s eight electoral votes in a nearly 30-point landslide on Election Day.

In Powell County, the margin was even greater as Trump carried 73 percent of the vote there.

Kentucky has been hailed as an Obamacare success story, its uninsured rate plummeting to 6 percent in 2015. Expanded Medicaid has given less than 2,000 Powell County residents health coverage since it began in 2014, with some 440,000 low-income Kentuckians newly eligible for the program.

At this point, Hollon says she doesn’t explain that the Obamacare some in her community despise is the same federal health law that helps them obtain coverage.

“You don’t even try,” she said during a recent interview at her Stanton office. “The thing is and the solution is we need to get them health coverage, so stop trying to associate it with the president. That’s a lost cause.”

Hollon called Trump’s executive action on the federal health law since his inauguration “destructive,” but she said she would base her judgment on Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare on how they plan to replace it.

Her son, for instance, can’t afford the insurance costs to open a small business because of a pre-existing heart condition, and a friend’s daughter is entering her third round of chemotherapy treatment for cancer, she said.

“It would be very nice to see, ‘This is what we have to offer, this is what we think would be a better plan,’ and if it is a better plan, put it in effect,” Hollon said. “But stop hurting people.”

Hollon says more could’ve been done to promote the benefits of the federal health law during last year’s election cycle.

That would dovetail with another idea she has for Democrats at all levels to improve their electoral prospects in Kentucky: Improve grassroots efforts and get more face-to-face interactions with voters.

“We have quite a few events in our Democrat party here, and I would hope that they (the Kentucky Democratic Party) would come here and help us get this word out that we’re not unchristian, we’re not some horrible Democrat party that’s trying to give everything away and take things away from you,” Hollon said.

“And I think a lot of that’s got to do with our marketing ourself. We need to get out and do more talking and grassroots.”

Mendel Tipton, chairman of the Powell County Republican Party, declined an interview request for this report.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at or 502-792-1135.



  • sad ky worker wrote on February 01, 2017 09:00 AM :

    I work in the Medicaid office and we see this every day. People will refuse it if its called Obamacare but they are ok with it if its just Medicaid. What difference does the name make? If the changes start happening and it goes back to the old way that Medicaid was and most of these people aren’t eligible anymore they are going to wish for Obamacare and that name is going to sound really good.

  • Geoff Young wrote on February 01, 2017 09:12 AM :

    What Andy Barr & the Republican Party have to offer the people of Kentucky is the emergency room. They don’t care about us & never have.

  • Charlie wrote on February 01, 2017 02:12 PM :

    Another sad case presented by the left that folks in KY don’t know what is good for them. The reality is Obamacare only provided insurance to about half the folks who didn’t have insurance previously. The cost? Most of us saw the premiums we were paying double while our deductibles rose. Sure some benefitted but the rest of us – those paying taxes for their benefits plus higher premiums for ours – took it on the chin. Obamacare is gone. Hopefully Congress will return health insurance to the market by allowing it to be marketed across state lines and by allowing each of us to decide what coverage we want. Provide for healthcare savings accounts which are accumulating and transferable and remove the taxes on procedures and devices levied to pay for the unaffordable care act.

  • Lois Gillespie wrote on February 02, 2017 11:52 AM :

    Charlie: I would be interested to know what your source is for the statement: “Most of us saw the premiums we were paying double…” Personally, my premiums went up $20. Consider this: People without insurance can’t afford it. Families working for minimum wage often don’t have SAVINGS!! They are living paycheck to paycheck and one medical emergency bankrupts them. People that rent their homes cannot AFFORD to own homes. People that drive dilapidated cars can’t afford new cars. A health savings plan won’t help them because they have NO SAVINGS. “Free markets” is what got us into stratospheric health care costs in the first place. I want my taxes to help poor families with children. I don’t want my taxes to help corporations and billionaires. They already have enough.

  • Charlie wrote on February 02, 2017 12:36 PM :

    Lois, Minimum wage should not be a career goal. Locally even the fast food restaurants have starting wages 20% above minimum wage. There is demand for workers who will come to work clean, consistently, on time and sober. Employers will pay well above the minimum for such workers in most industries. We haven’t had a free market in health care for a long time. Insurance companies are hampered by state borders and the regulations within. Freeing them from those onerous regulations will encourage competition and drive down costs. I want my taxes to build and maintain infrastructure (education is a part of the infrastructure), defend our borders and to keep the peace within them. It is the responsibility of us as citizens to fund the charities needed to help those who have fallen on hard times to give them a hand up. Government has created a permanent dependent class that is hampering our efforts to carry on proper governmental activities. This dependent class has been created by unscrupulous lawmakers who rely on this dependency for votes.

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