Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has kept a major campaign promise: the return of the state's wildly successful Obamacare health exchange Kynect, eliminated by previous Gov. Matt Bevin because it was so successful and Bevin needed to prove that Kynect was a failure. When Bevin couldn't, he just killed it. Now Beshear has brought it back.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, with help from U.S. Health and Human Services Secrertary Xavier Becerra, rolled out the reopening Friday of Kynect, the state-based health insurance exchange.
Friday was the start of open enrollment for existing recipients of Medicaid, the government health plan for low-income people and those with disabilities. Open enrollment for private health plans on Kentucky’s exchange is from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15.
The exchange was started by Beshear’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, under the federal Affordable Care but was shuttered in favor of the federal health exchange by his successor, former Gov. Matt Bevin.
“I’m really excited about today. Kynect was the gold standard,” Andy Beshear said in a Zoom news conference with Becerra. “Health care coverage is neither red nor blue, Democrat or Republican. It is necessary for survival in a pandemic and it is necessary for Kentucky to thrive.”
Becerra praised Kynect, calling it a “Kentucky-made, Kentucky-driven and Kentucky-based product” and that no one knows better the health care needs of Kentuckians than Beshear. He labeled Beshear a “true champion of health care.”
Beshear said the goal is to get health insurance to 280,000 uninsured Kentuckians.
Beshear announced last year that he was bringing back Kynect, the online health exchange where people can shop for and buy health insurance, as well as sign up for Medicaid.
Kentucky received national praise for the program that brought about one of the lowest rates of uninsured in the country. Bevin, though, said it was too costly and redundant of the federal website to buy health insurance. He stopped it in 2017.
Beshear said Friday that Kentuckians now can browse plans and explore benefits at kynect.ky.gov that take effect Jan. 1, 2022.
Compared with current federal exchange offerings, Kentuckians will benefit in 2022 from more health care insurance providers and the opportunity to tailor coverage to address their unique needs, said Beshear.
He said the change is expected to save Kentuckians at least $15 million a year.
I'd take advantage of it while you can, I fully expect the KY GOP supermajority to move Kynect under the aegis of Attorney General Daniel Cameron's office in January and then dismantle it in the spring, but it will be nice for a couple of months to live in a state when not everyone in political power wants poor people to die in order to stop burdening the commonwealth.
Don't expect Kynect to last more than a few months. Use it if you need to.