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Kentuckians Have Mixed Views on Affordable Care Act, Poll Shows

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Kentuckians have mixed views of the Affordable Care Act, according to a poll released today.

The Kentucky Health Issues Poll revealed mixed views of the ACA, which is also known as Obamacare.

Kentucky adults are just about split in their views of the law. About 39 percent of those polled have a favorable view, and about 41 percent view the law negatively. Twenty percent of Kentuckians aren't exactly sure how they feel about it.

Kynect, Kentucky's state-based health insurance exchange, has been nationally recognized as a success. In 2014, 521,000 people enrolled in a health insurance plan, with 80 percent enrolling in Medicaid.

Dewey Clayton, professor of political science at the University of Louisville, noted that the law has been controversial  since it was first proposed. He said referring to the ACA as Obamacare or Kynect can affect how a person thinks of the law.

"Oftentimes, how you market something, how you get the message out will determine how people think of something," he said. "A lot of people were not even aware that kynect was essentially the state level version of the Affordable Care Act."

Louisville resident Mark Biek said he thinks the ACA is a good start, but it's not enough.

"I want the government to pay for everybody's health care... real socialized medicine," Biek said.

The poll shows that 51 percent of Kentucky adults still don't have enough information about the law, which rolled out in late 2013. Those with less than a high school diploma and adults living below the federal poverty line were most likely not to have enough information.

Clayton said this is problematic because they are probably the people who would most benefit from the law.

"There might be somewhat of a disconnect between the policy makers who have been implementing this in the way they're marketing this. They've not maybe done a good enough job explaining it to the average person," Clayton said.

Tyler Henderson, 25, of Scottsburg, Ind., recently became uninsured after being laid off from a construction job. Scott, who was walking in downtown Louisville Thursday, got a new construction job this month. He said he doesn't know much about the ACA, but he believes it's the reason his new employer isn't offering health insurance.

"Obamacare is making them have to pay more for their insurance so they can cover us for our insurance," Henderson said. "It's costing them a lot of money so a lot of companies are cutting their insurance off because Obamacare is making them pay a lot more for it."

The recent poll also shows 58 percent of Democrats have a favorable view of the law. About 64 percent of Republicans have an unfavorable view.

Clayton said many people were against the law if they felt their political party was against the law. He said some people equated the success of the law with President Obama's success.

"Many people were not in favor of it because they wanted their political party back in power and they felt that by supporting this it would in essence be supporting the president and his policies," Clayton said.

The poll was funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. (The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is part of the partnership for WFPL’s Next Louisville: Community Health project.)

The poll was conducted between Oct.  8 and Nov. 6. Researchers from the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati interviewed 1,597 adults throughout Kentucky by telephone.

Correction: The first paragraph of this story has been revised.

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