Powell County residents both hopeful and worried about repeal of the Affordable Care Act

01/31/2017 02:38 PM

STANTON – Powell County, located in the eastern Kentucky foothills of the Appalachians, has been part of a growing number of counties in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, with a large number of registered Democrats who tend to vote for Republican candidates.

The latest census shows the population at 12,269 of which 9,933 are registered voters, and according to the latest State Board of Elections statistics, 6,678 are registered Democrats, 2,695 Republican, and 467 registered as independent.

But recent elections show the county tends to vote red.

In the 2015 governor’s race, Gov. Matt Bevin edged Jack Conway by 225 votes, 1,335 to 1,110, and in the 2016 presidential race, President Donald Trump got almost 71 percent of the vote with 3,513 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 1,272.

It’s also a somewhat poor county with a median household income of $29,736 with 26 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

In addition, 20 percent of the population under 65 has a disability.

So, all the talk of repealing the Affordable Care Act has got the attention of many in the county, who wonder if some will lose coverage, or will the repeal lead to a better working system.

Lorna Baker of Stanton, who is one of the regulars at Bruen’s diner in Stanton, where the locals come to get a great lunch and talk about their community and the country, knows firsthand about the challenges of the Affordable Care Act since her daughter is currently on disability and is frustrated with all of the what she calls complicated paper work which goes into the process.

One of her biggest concerns is the Medicare Part D coverage gap. The period of consumer payment for prescription costs which lies between the initial coverage limit and the catastrophic coverage threshold.

“She’s caught in what they call that doughnut hole,” Baker said. “She’s on disability and she doesn’t draw that much money anyway, and then to pay higher medical bills, I think it should be addressed immediately,” Baker said.

Glenda Birch of Stanton believes that there could be some positive effects of repealing some parts of the Affordable Care Act, but she admits that some in the county, her included, are worried that repeal might cause some to lose benefits.

“Some people it will help, some people it will hurt,” Birch said. “You just can’t do away with it. There are a lot of good assets about it, but I’m sure that there could be some improvement made to it.”

William Brewer, a retired school teacher and state worker, welcomes repeal slowly piece by piece, until an alternate program is in place.

One of the criticisms that he has is how it has brought on additional expenses for him.

“It’s destroyed my insurance,” Brewer said. “My deductible has tripled.”

All of the folks in Bruen’s Diner were in agreement that the biggest need for the county is local jobs as many who are employed face up to a 45 minute commute time to get to their places of employment.

The latest figures show that the unemployment rate in Powell County is at 5.9 percent, which is down significantly from a high of 18.9 percent in January 2010.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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