Stivers calls for House bills on Kynect and Medicaid expansion, says Senate would vote on them to show where legislators stand

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Republican Senate President Robert Stivers challenged Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo Friday to send the Senate two House bills that would preserve the state’s embrace of “Obamacare,” in order to “have a full, fair debate on the issue” and see where legislators stand on it.

Robert Stivers

Stivers was referring to House Bill 5, which would require Kentucky to keep operating the Kynect health-insurance exchange, and House Bill 6, which would keep the state’s current expansion of the federal-state Medicaid program.

Both would block Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s plans to change the programs, and with the Senate firmly in Republican control, their main sponsor, Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, has said he doesn’t expect them to become law. Stivers noted that the bills aren’t moving, despite being sponsored by several leaders of the House’s Democratic majority.

“I would surmise that what they’re doing is just pandering and playing to a political base even though they don’t believe it’s good,” he said. “If they truly believe it’s good, then vote them on the House floor.” Referring to House Speaker Greg Stumbo, he added, “If he votes it on the House floor, we’ll vote ’em on the Senate floor.”

Stumbo said it was interesting that Stivers is attacking Obamacare when Bevin’s plan for Kynect will use the federal health-insurance exchange, Don Weber reports for cn|2‘s “Pure Politics.”

“He’s dismantling our Beshearcare here in Kentucky that Kentuckians were so happy to have. So, I’d be happy to have that discussion.”

Former Gov. Steve Beshear, founder of non-profit Save Kentucky Healthcare, said in a press release that Stivers and Republican leaders are “once again touting misinformation about Kynect and the state of health care in Kentucky.”

Stivers claimed that the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the state had lost 3,500 health-care jobs while Beshear had promised that the expansion of Medicaid would add 5,400 such jobs in the state by bringing more people into the health care system, creating jobs and tax revenue.

Actually, BLS data show that while hospitals lost employment, overall employment in the health-care and social-assistance sector has gone up 4.6 percent since Obamacare was fully implemented in January 2014, compared to 3.1 percent job growth in all other Kentucky sectors, says Jason Bailey of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. (KCEP chart)

Beshear cited that data, adding, “Just last week Governor Bevin’s own administration released data showing that the educational and health services sector in Kentucky gained 4,200 jobs in 2015 alone.”

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