It's official: the most successful state health insurance exchange in the country had a good run, but as of end of the month, GOP Gov. Matt Bevin is closing the doors on Kynect.
Following through on a campaign pledge, Gov. Matt Bevin has notified federal authorities he plans to dismantle kynect, Kentucky's health insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act.
The decision drew immediate fire from health care advocates, including Bill Wagner, executive director of the Family Health Centers, a network of public health clinics in Louisville.
"It's a great disappointment," Wagner said. "It's an unwelcome setback in our efforts to reach the number of uninsured people and improve access to health care in Kentucky."
In a Dec. 30 letter to Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bevin said he plans to wind down the state health exchange and transition Kentuckians to the federal site, healthcare.gov, to shop for insurance under the law also known as Obamacare.
Meanwhile, kynect remains open and the changes will not affect anyone shopping for insurance for the current enrollment period, which ends Jan. 31. Nor will the changes affect anyone who signed up for Medicaid, the government health plan for low-income citizens, through the kynect site.
Bevin's office said Monday in a statement that his goal is to eliminate "the redundancy" of Kentucky's online health exchange.
Advocates had urged Bevin to keep kynect, a website praised for its accessibility and ease of use. They said helped hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians sign up for health coverage. It also included a public information campaign and workers to help people get health coverage.
"That's really disappointing," said Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, a coalition of advocacy groups. "It's a lot more than just a website."
It is, or was, and now Kentucky will join the ranks of those who will have to sign up on the federal exchange. There's the added bonus of taking the state exchange apart and getting Kentucky on healthcare.gov by October to cost Kentucky taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, but Bevin can just blame that on Obama too.
He can't keep an Obama program that works, after all. It has to be destroyed. Otherwise, people in Kentucky might stop hating the black Democrat.
As they say, elections have consequences, and for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians, those consequences are going to get really ugly, really soon.