• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Here's Johnny - Beshear v. Bevin, round?

The latest battle in the Beshear-Bevin war drips with irony. On Monday, former Gov. Steve Beshear blasted present Gov. Matt Bevin for - get this - cutting "back room deals" with the Obama administration. Seeing how Republicans across much of the country have run up the score by tying their opponents to President Obama, it seems only fair that a Democrat like Beshear gets a turn at bat. As Associated Press writer Adam Beam reports, the fight is over what the president and Beshear consider signature achievements - the Affordable Care Act and the way the Beshear Administration hopped aboard. Beshear used "Obamacare" to expand Kentucky's Medicaid program, which helped reduce the percentage of Kentuckians without health insurance from 20 percent to 7.5 percent. During the governor's race, Bevin said repeatedly that Kentucky taxpayers can't afford to have more than a quarter of its citizens on Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor. For Bevin to replace the expanded Medicaid rolls with, um, something, he needs the go-ahead from the administration he campaigned against in his successful bid for governor. Beam reports that Bevin and company have met with federal officials several times since Bevin took office, but the governor hasn't released any details of his plan. Bevin has called it "transformative," an adjective that can be taken any number of ways: Caterpillars transform into butterflies, then get old and transform into non-living butterflies. Monday, Beshear made public a letter he wrote to Bevin and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. "His (Bevin's) proposal has been created in secret with no public meetings, no public review, and no public input of any kind, and its contents are unknown," Beshear wrote. "We demand the Bevin and Obama administrations pull back the curtain, stop the back room deals, and allow for full disclosure and transparency." Beam points out that federal law requires state officials to give the public 30 days to comment on such waiver applications before they're submitted, after which the feds must give the public another 30 days to comment on them. Meanwhile, The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky will host a non-public meeting Thursday, with the governor's office not expected to participate. Beshear said Bevin should make his plan public before the non-public meeting. Fat chance. Meanwhile, Beshear's son Andy, aka the state attorney general, is also feuding with the man who replaced his daddy in the governor's mansion. Barring what I'll politely call an unexpected development, the B & B boys will each be in office for at least 43 more months. The Kentucky Capitol is one of the most beautiful in the nation, especially this time of year. However, designers might not have reckoned that members of different parties would one day occupy the offices of governor and attorney general. They're on the same floor, just one hallway turn and a few yards away. It's the sort of set-up that would make it easy for Andy or Matt to walk over and borrow a cup of sugar - or lean around the corner and shoot spitwads. My guess is that the latter is far more likely. Judge James Hillary Mulligan had it right back in 1902 when he wrote the poem "In Kentucky," the last line of which is, "The landscape is the grandest - and Politics - the damnedest in Kentucky." (The author would like to thank Judge Mulligan and AP writer Adam Beam for their help with this column.)

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