First the Kentucky co-op and now the state’s exchange; ObamaCare is out of Kentucky.
Tea-Party candidate and newly elected Republican Governor Matt Bevin campaigned on ending Kynect, the state’s exchange which has been hailed by the Obama Administration as one of the (few) succeeding state exchanges. Kynect used $300 million in taxpayer dollars to build it’s exchange and functioning website to enroll more than 500,000 people.
Kentucky is the only state of the 17 with exchanges to scrap a state-run marketplace that the ObamaCare supporters dare to claim is a success and put enrollees onto the federal exchange.
Bevin promised to end the redundancy that the state exchange creates and the additional 1-percent charge on all insurance premiums that funds Kynect. If all goes according to plans, Kynect will be out of business and ObamaCare coverage transitioned to Healthcare.gov by the 2017 enrollment period this fall. Kentuckians can continue to enroll in 2016 health plans though January 31.
Bevin is also planning reforms for Medicaid in the state. Under ObamaCare’s Mediciad expansion, 400,000 Kentuckians signed on. Bevin wants to transform this system to incorporate more free-market ideas such as requiring enrollees to pay some share for their coverage.
This news comes after we saw Kentucky’ s state co-op, Kentucky Health Cooperative, shutter and announce that it would stop serving its 51,000 members at the end of 2015 because it couldn't climb out of the hole of staggering losses and unpaid claims. As we reported, those losses amounted to $50 million in 2014.
Healthcare in Kentucky is undergoing major change and as you can imagine many aren’t too pleased.
Bevin's health care decisions come as a disappointment to supporters who viewed the state as the Obamacare jewel of the South, where most states remain ardently opposed to the health care law. Former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's decision to expand coverage through executive orders helped Kentucky record one of the largest statewide drops in the uninsured rate in the past two years.
But health care advocates say ditching Kynect means the state will lose out on the local connection that made enrollment so successful in Kentucky. And it likely means the state will have less money for enrollment education and outreach, potentially hindering future enrollment growth.
Scrapping Kentucky’s state-based exchange is also likely to create confusion for enrollees who are accustomed to using the state’s website…“It’ll be like driving a Honda versus driving a Ford or a Toyota. You still have a vehicle to get you there, but it’s a totally different experience,” said Dan Schuyler, a senior director of exchange technology at Leavitt Partners, a consulting firm headed by former George W. Bush health secretary Mike Leavitt. “There will be some disruption, there will be confusion. There will be some attrition.”
While many are disappointed, here is one example of a candidate making good on his campaign promises and one that will alleviate some tax burden on the lives of those in his state. Bevin is not stopping anyone for signing up for ObamaCare, but releasing from the state the costs of running a healthcare exchange.
It is heartening to see Bevin make true to his promise and take on ObamaCare which has been one of the biggest expansions of government power in American history with disastrous unintended consequences.
This points the way to free-market ideas to provide alternatives for those looking for healthcare coverage.