Kentucky governor seeks to revive health insurance exchange

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Democratic governor of Kentucky reversed its republican predecessor and announced plans to return a health insurance program launched by his father, which was attributed to hundreds of thousands of people signing up for cover before it was dismantled.
Governor Andy Beshear said on Wednesday he had sent a letter to federal officials informing them of his plans to revive the state health insurance exchange in early 2022. The program was a result of the groundbreaking Affordable Care Act, for which President Barack Obama advocated.
Beshear's father, the former governor Steve Beshear, started the state's online exchange in 2013, but the subsequent republican governor dismantled it. The state exchange, known as Kynect, enabled Kentuckians to purchase commercial health plans or sign up for Medicaid - a federal and state health program for poor and disabled people.
Steve Beshear's successor, GOP governor Matt Bevin, had abolished the state exchange and fulfilled an election promise from his election in 2015. Bevin said it was too expensive and Kentuckians could use the federal website to get health insurance.
Andy Beshear knocked Bevin out of the polls last year, and on Wednesday the new governor took the step to revitalize state exchanges as part of his efforts to expand health insurance coverage.
"We have the opportunity to get better, get healthier, save money, and ultimately ensure the basic human right that healthcare is," said Beshear.
The state could run the stock market better, he said, adding that this would lower health insurance premiums for many Kentuckians. They are now paying a 3% surcharge of $ 9.8 million per year on insurance plans taken out through the federal website, he said.
Beshear said the coronavirus outbreak had reinforced a "critical and deadly lesson" about the importance of health insurance in a high-disease condition.
"This pandemic shows us that the lack of good health care options makes us more vulnerable and less resilient," he said. “We have been moving backwards in healthcare over the past four years. The rate of uninsured children and overall the rate of uninsured Kentuckians have grown. "
As part of the state health exchange, approximately half a million new Kentuckians were enrolled for Medicaid coverage or other health plans, Beshear said.
"Kynect was one of the most successful exchanges in the country," he said. "And that's why we reduced our uninsured Kentuckians at the highest rate in the country for several years."
The governor said last week that his goal was to insure every Kentuckian through private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare. He said at the time that an early focus would be on getting black Kentuckians to report, noting that they suffered disproportionately from the corona virus.
The restart of the state stock exchange will result in a one-time fee of $ 5 million, followed by annual operating costs of $ 1 million to $ 2 million, the governor said. The resumption of the state exchange would give him the additional flexibility to extend the registration deadlines to register people, he said.
It is Beshear's latest move to reverse Bevin's health policy.
At the beginning of his tenure, Beshear Bevin's efforts to impose job requirements as a prerequisite for obtaining Medicaid health insurance for some working adults. Beshear signed an implementing regulation that lifted Bevin's plan that affected recipients must either work, study, volunteer, or do other “community engagement” activities to qualify for Medicaid reporting. A federal judge blocked the requirements before they came into force, but Bevin's administration had appealed.

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