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Health Care Is Backdrop For Beshear's Response To Trump Address

Steve Beshear

Former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear will be front and center Tuesday night as he delivers the official Democratic response to President Trump's address to a joint session of Congress.

The role is an important one historically, speaking for the party not in the White House. This year, it also comes amid the potential collapse of the Affordable Care Act -- former President Barack Obama's signature legislation and part of Beshear's legacy as Kentucky's governor.

As Congressional Republicans try to come up with a plan to repeal and replace the health law, Beshear will likely address concerns that their plan will leave more people without insurance.

Beshear spearheaded the creation of Kynect, Kentucky’s now-defunct individual exchange, and Medicaid expansion -- both of which happened as a result of the ACA. He called the implementation of the law one of his biggest accomplishments in 2013.

Whatever Trump says during the address on Tuesday night, Beshear will likely home in on the success of the Affordable Care Act in the Bluegrass State.

At the height of Kynect, around 100,000 people were enrolled, and Medicaid expansion has provided some 400,000 low-to-moderate income Kentuckians insurance. Kentucky had the largest drop in the percentage of its population that was uninsured in the country – going from 21 percent to 8 percent in 2015 alone.

Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.