Former Gov. Steve Beshear will soon release book; discusses leadership, health care with Harvard School of Public Health

03/29/2017 05:09 PM

Former Gov. Steve Beshear took part in a discussion touching on leadership, health care, a book detailing his years in the governor’s mansion and his rebuttal to President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

In the talk at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Beshear confirmed he will soon release a book entitled: People Over Politics. The book is currently listed available for pre-order on Amazon has a May 26 release date, and is co-authored by Dan Hassert, Beshear’s former speech writer.

During the half-hour long talk, Beshear was asked about the decision to launch Kentucky’s state-based health care exchange under the Affordable Care Act and his decision to expand the state’s Medicaid population.

The former governor, who now resides in Lexington, Kentucky said launching a state exchange to access health insurance was a “pretty easy decision.” The tougher decision, Beshear said was to expand Medicaid.

“It wasn’t tough from a moral standpoint, I mean it to me was the right thing to do,” Beshear said. “But, there was a very legitimate question — can you afford it? What will it do to your budget,” he said.

Beshear explained the decision to bring in PricewaterhouseCoopers to study the affect the expansion would have on the state. The analysis at the time, was that the expansion would create 17,000 new jobs and have a $15.6 billion economic impact to the state. The analysis eased his decision to expand Medicaid to cover those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty rate, which is about $31,000 for a family of four.

At the end of last month Beshear was tapped by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to offer the Democratic rebuttal to President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress.

Beshear, with his self-professed Western Kentucky twang, said he was chosen because he can connect with blue collar individuals who have been leaving the Democratic Party. He said he also offered Democrats an angle at healthcare ahead of a showdown on a Republican repeal and replacement bill to the Affordable Care Act.

His speech, he felt was effective, driving both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to Kentucky to target health care. The GOP health care replacement plan failed to garner enough support in the U.S. House of Representatives, which Beshear chalked up to public pressure.

Beshear was lambasted by some analysts and late night comedy shows for his rebuttal, which featured stoic and unmoving individuals in the background at the Lexington diner. The former governor said it was an ABC News producer who told the other individuals in the room not to move, or distract from Beshear.

The larger point for Beshear’s rebuttal was the reason the Democratic Party was courting blue collar voters, which he said some estimated the party could only attract a small percentage to flip their political allegiances.

“Let me tell you something, you give me four or five percent more and I’ll win nine out of ten races in this country,” he said.


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