Republicans question need for Kynect; Beshear administration officials say using federal insurance exchange would cost more

With the U.S. Supreme Court approving Obamacare subsidies on the federal health-insurance exchange as well as state exchanges, some Republican legislators in Kentucky say the state should close its exchange, branded as Kynect. But officials of Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration say that would cost money and do away with a successful project.

“Republicans on the Interim Joint Health and Welfare Committee
suggested Wednesday the state may fare better by shuttering kynect in
favor of the federal website HealthCare.gov,” Kevin Wheatley reports for cn|2, a news service of TimeWarner Cable. “But Beth Jurek, executive director of the Cabinet for Health and
Family Services
’ budget and policy office, said Kynect is better suited
for Kentucky customers than the federal exchange and insurers would be
charged a higher assessment fee on HealthCare.gov if the state exchange
closes. The debate preceded an 11-11 party-line vote to approve this year’s
version of Gov. Steve Beshear’s executive order establishing kynect. The
tie vote allows the order to remain in effect.”

The issue also divides the major-party candidates for governor. The Democratic nominee, Attorney General Jack Conway, says he would keep Kynect, but Republican Matt Bevin says he would move its customers to the federal exchange.

The assessment on insurers
for plans sold on HealthCare.gov is 3.5 percent, while Kynect only assesses 1 percent. “The federal government has already covered costs to launch Kynect,
leading Jurek to predict that the state would be responsible for any
costs associated with closing the exchange and moving to the federal
system, such as creating an interface that allows HealthCare.gov to
determine applicants’ eligibility for Medicaid,” Wheatley reports.

“On top of any misgivings about the exchange itself, Beshear’s
decision to circumvent a politically divided General Assembly to enact
kynect through executive order in 2012 still has some fuming,” Wheatley writes, quoting Sen. Julie Raque Adams, R-Louisville, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee: “I think on the most basic premise, the fact that we deal with this
as an executive order is very offensive to me, because we have completely
extracted the legislative component from a program that actually
touches the lives of everybody who elects us.”

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