With three weeks to go until the GOP primary for governor here in Kentucky, this week's debate was a race to see which Republican candidate would make things the worst for the Bluegrass state.
The event at WKU featured Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, and former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner.
If elected, all three pledged to dismantle the state’s health insurance exchange known as Kynect.
Comer said the state took on a lot of responsibility that it can’t afford.
"Eighty-two percent of the people who got on Kynect ended up on Medicaid," Comer explained. "What Kynect became for Governor Beshear was a way to greatly expand Medicaid to the point to where we have 25 percent of the state on Medicaid, one out of four people. That's not sustainable."
As governor, Comer said he would get more Kentuckians into private health coverage while changing eligibility requirements for Medicaid.
Matt Bevin said he would transition those who signed up on Kentucky’s exchange to the federal exchange.
"Frankly, it's a level of redundancy we can't afford. It's as simple as that," Bevin suggested. "We were lured into participation through the use of federal dollars."
Starting in 2017, the state must begin bearing a share of the cost of expanding Medicaid. Currently, the federal government is picking up the entire tab.
Hal Heiner suggested tying the Medicaid expansion to workforce training so people could get a job, get off of Medicaid, and obtain private insurance. He criticized the Medicaid expansion for lacking any level of personal responsibility.
"It doesn't have what you're seeing conservative governors in other states adopt in their plans which build in incentives to use preventive care, to use primary care providers rather than emergency care, and to make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce the overall cost," Heiner stated.
And again, all three candidates vowed to destroy arguably the most effective state exchange in the country. Comer wants to effectively privatize the state's Medicaid expansion, Bevin wants to rip up Kynect and put us on a federal exchange (which depending on the Supreme Court would literally be a plan to make health care unaffordable again for half a million people), and Heiner wants to make Medicaid expansion impossible to qualify for.
All three want to take health insurance coverage away from half a million Kentuckians.
I'm not sure who will win, but man, if Jack Conway can't beat these clowns in November, we are royally screwed.