Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday that if he becomes the Senate Majority Leader after the midterms, he will work to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That's awkward for him, because 421,000 of his Kentucky constituents now have health insurance because of Obamacare.
When the Associated Press pointed this out to McConnell, he responded that the fate of Kentucky's exchange isn't connected to the health care law. ("I think that's unconnected to my comments about the overall question.") As the AP's Adam Moss points out, "the exchange would not exist if not for the law that created it."
McConnell will probably realize soon, if he hasn't already, that it's hard to take away health insurance once citizens have it. Jonathan Chait wrote about Republicans' "repeal fantasy" back in 2010, explaining how hard that would be to actually do:
Republicans would have to pair their repeal with the immediate enactment of another plan that addressed the problems of people with preexisting conditions. ... Crafting a health care plan that can get 60 votes is very, very hard — that's why the country went for decades with a dysfunctional health care system.
There hasn't yet been conservative health care plan that Republicans have coalesced around. McConnell may get cheers when he talks about repealing Obamacare, but actually doing that would require quick, cooperative legislative action in the Senate. That's unlikely to happen. Moreover, according to a March Bloomberg poll, 51 percent of Americans would keep the ACA with "small modifications," and 13 percent would keep it as is. That leaves only 34 percent of Americans who still want to see full repeal.
Perhaps McConnell just missed Dave Weigel's proclamation in Slate this morning that "repealing Obamacare is out" and "'fixing health care' is in." Many Republican candidates have starting saying they'll fix health care in their ads, rather than outright repeal the ACA.