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Beshear Announces Planned Return to Kynect State Health Care Exchange

Kynect could return, Governor Andy Beshear announced on Wednesday.

The state health care exchange, created after the adoption of the federal Affordable Care Act, was implemented in 2013 by then-Governor Steve Beshear, leading to the enrollment of roughly 500,000 newly eligible people in Medicaid coverage or private health care plans.

The program was ended in 2017 by Governor Matt Bevin.

“We have been paying more over the last four years to get less. So today, I’m announcing that I’ve submitted a declaration of intent letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to transition to a state-based exchange beginning Jan. 1, 2022,” the governor said.

When Bevin dismantled Kynect, Kentuckians were made to use the federal health care exchange, which Gov. Beshear said costs a roughly 3-percent user fee, totaling $9.8 million in 2018.

A relaunch of the state exchange will cost $5 million at once, and then between $1 and $2 million annually to operate. 

Beshear argued that the state system would save $2.8 to $3.8 million in the first year and then $7.8 to $8.8 million each year after.

“In the last four years, we moved backward in health care. The rate of uninsured and uninsured children grew,” Beshear said.

Gov. Beshear said a state-based exchange will provide benefits beyond avoiding the federal user fees. He said the new system would offer Kentuckians a reduction in premium costs; integrate with Medicaid, offering a single door to access coverage; allow greater flexibility and autonomy than the federal system; and keep control local, putting officials in position to determine the needs of Kentuckians.

“We have an opportunity to be better, to get healthier, to save money and ultimately to provide that basic human right that is health care,” Beshear said. “It also allows us greater flexibility and autonomy than the federal exchange, where we can extend the annual open enrollment period and offer special open enrollment periods. It finally offers us local control. I believe we can do this much better than the federal government. We proved that many years ago, and as we go forward, this is just going to be one part of a larger set of announcements on health care that we anticipate we will be making in August.”

-Staff report

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