Former Gov. Steve Beshear fighting to save Kynect

Gov. Matt Bevin has vowed to dismantle Kynect. Photo by Adam Pennavaria | Staff

Editorial Staff

With Kynect’s destruction on the horizon, former governor Steve Beshear is fighting back against current Gov. Matt Bevin’s plan to end the state’s online insurance market.

Beshear announced a new advocacy group on Thursday aimed at opposing Bevin’s plans to pull the plug on Beshear’s signature achievement as governor. Kynect is widely considered the quintessential Obamacare success story, as enrollment in the exchange combined with the Medicaid expansion gave health care access to about 500,000 Kentuckians.

“Once you get into office you’ve got an obligation to the people of this state to evaluate the facts and the evidence and do what’s in the best interest of those people,” Beshear said during an announcement speech in Louisville.  “It is obvious what is in the best interest of Kentuckians when it comes to health care, and that is to make sure every single Kentuckian continues to have access to it.”

The question is, can Beshear create enough waves to stop Bevin’s plans?  Will the Republican governor reverse his decision to issue an executive order that would dismantle Kynect by the year’s end?  

Probably not, but that doesn’t mean Beshear shouldn’t try.

Kentucky experienced a bigger decrease in percentage of uninsured citizens than any state in the nation between 2013 and 2014, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That fact alone, coupled with Kynect’s nationwide acclaim, should be enough to keep the exchange intact, but the influence of partisan politics can’t be underestimated in the health care battle between Beshear and Bevin.

“Study after study confirms the success of both expanded Medicaid and the state-operated health benefit exchange we call Kynect,” said Beshear, who commissioned a study by Deloitte Consulting and researchers at the University of Louisville to analyze the effects of expanded health care on Kentucky.  

The study said the Medicaid expansion would pay for itself through 2020 with savings of $819 million from job creation and tax revenue. Bevin has called the study “nonsense” because it is based on unfeasible assumptions.

Bevin reaffirmed his plans to dismantle Kynect during the State of the Commonwealth when he revealed his proposed budget. He said the exchange was “bleeding out” and relied too heavily on state and federal subsidies. He called Kynect a “redundancy” that was of “no value to us” because he said it performs the same function as the federal exchange.

As of 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 4,732 people had signed the Save Kentucky Healthcare petition, 268 short of its goal of 5,000.

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