02:12 - Source: CNN
Trump: We will repeal and replace Obamacare

Story highlights

"Gov. Beshear is an experienced job-creator and a uniquely credible voice," Pelosi said

As governor, Beshear lowered Kentucky's uninsured rate from more than 20% to 7.5%

CNN —  

Former Kentucky Gov. Steven Beshear will make the case for Obamacare during the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s first joint address to Congress on Tuesday.

Beshear is expected to address the need for Trump to create more jobs and improve education, but much of his speech will challenge the Republican push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

“American families desperately need our president to put his full attention on creating opportunity and good-paying jobs and preserving their right to affordable health care and a quality education,” Beshear said in a statement with the House and Senate Democratic leadership. “Real leaders don’t spread derision and division – they build partnerships and offer solutions instead of ideology and blame.”

Kentucky received national attention under Beshear’s leadership for the state’s ability to implement the Affordable Care Act. As governor, Beshear lowered Kentucky’s uninsured rate from more than 20% to 7.5%, one of the country’s largest improvements.

“Under Governor Beshear’s leadership, Kentucky became one of the great success stories of the Affordable Care Act in delivering quality, affordable health coverage for all,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in the statement. “Governor Beshear is an experienced job-creator and a uniquely credible voice on the devastating consequences of Republicans’ plans to Make America Sick Again for families across America.”

Kentucky Republican Party spokesman Tres Watson, however, called the choice of Beshear to give the response to Trump’s address “laughable.”

“It’s laughable that Steve Beshear is being given a national stage to continue his myth that Obamacare was a success in Kentucky,” he told CNN. “Health outcomes have not improved, the state co-op went belly-up, premiums for families have skyrocketed, insurers have left the state, and the cost of Medicaid expansion threatens to drive our commonwealth to the brink of bankruptcy.”

“Obamacare has been an unmitigated disaster in Kentucky and Steve Beshear was the captain of that ship,” Watson added.

Health outcomes vary in Kentucky, according to the multiple areas measured in the 2015 America’s Health Rankings from the United Health Foundation and the American Public Health Association. Kentucky Health Cooperative Inc. did close its doors in October 2015. Family premiums have risen and some insurers are no longer providing coverage in the state.

Still, Democrats on the Hill plan to make a defense of Obamacare a top focus in responding to Trump’s speech. They feel emboldened by new poll numbers showing the health care law’s popularity on the rise and are seizing on the unrest bubbling up at GOP town halls across the country over the weeklong congressional recess.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Pelosi are holding an event at the National Press Club on Monday to begin their own pre-buttal to the President’s message and the GOP congressional agenda and are expected to emphasize areas where they think the law is working.

On the night of the President’s speech, Democrats plan to bring constituents from their districts who, among other things, support the Affordable Care Act and have personal stories about how the law has helped their families.

Rep. Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat, is organizing a group of House Democrats to invite guests who showcase the diversity of the country and are opposed to recent Trump administration actions, including the travel ban and changes to bathroom use guidelines for LGBT communities. Guests will include Muslim Americans, immigrant leaders, people with disabilities and LGBT advocates.

Arizona Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego and Raúl Grijalva invited the children of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, an undocumented mother of two who was deported earlier this month amid fears in immigrant communities of a Trump crackdown on illegal immigration. Her case sparked several demonstrations in the border state, including one in Phoenix where seven people were arrested after trying to block an Immigration and Customs Enforcement van from taking her away.

Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee has invited Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a Flint pediatrician whose parents fled Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and who helped uncover the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan. Iraq is one of the countries named in the administration’s travel ban.

“Dr. Mona’s personal story of coming to America from Iraq also reminds us of the many important contributions immigrants make to our nation,” Kildee said.

Rep. Mike Thompson of California is urging members to invite law enforcement officials from their districts to focus on gun-control issues and the impact of recent immigration actions on their police departments. His guest will be Chief Andrew Bidou of the Vallejo Police Department.

“As the President and Republican leadership continue to push policies that would undermine the safety of our first responders, I wanted to make it clear that I stand with those who put their lives on the line every day,” Thompson said in a statement Friday.

Delivering a response to a presidential address can catapult little-known politicians into the national spotlight. Before becoming the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivered the response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2016. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio increased his visibility when he gave the speech in 2013, a couple of years before launching his 2016 bid for president. And Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, a conservative rising star, delivered the response in 2015, one year before making several shortlists to be the 2016 vice presidential nominee.