|Attorney General Andy Beshear|
Attorney General Andy Beshear, whose father former Gov. Steve Beshear implemented Kynect, the state’s online health insurance marketplace, opposes Gov. Matt Bevin’s decision to shut it down, calling it bad policy and bad for consumers, Nick Storm reports for cn|2‘s “Pure Politics.”
Bevin notified federal officials Dec. 30 that Kentucky plans to shut down Kynect, which he says is redundant because there is a federal exchange.
“I think this move, if they stay with it, is really bad policy,” Beshear told Storm in an interview. “As the attorney general I am the chief advocate for consumers — including consumers that get their health insurance through Kynect. If they are moved from Kynect to the federal exchange they will likely pay more and be subject to all of those issues that we’ve read about with the federal exchange.
“Whether it’s issues with the website, some tax issues on the background … it is a bad deal for Kentucky consumers.”
Kynect was created to be self-sustaining. It was initially funded by $283 million in federal funding and is now paid for by a 1 percent assessment on all health-insurance policies sold in the state. The legislature enacted the fee more than 20 years ago to create a pool to insure high-risk people, a pool that the reform law made unnecessary.
During the previous administration, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services estimated that it would cost the state $23 million to dismantle Kynect. “This is an amount of money the state will spend that it doesn’t have to,” Beshear said. Bevin reportedly has disputed that estimate.
The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, a left-leaning think-tank, published an infographic illustrating other ways the state could use $23 million, including more classroom teachers; upgrades for state police, including body armor and salary increases; and 9,200 additional slots for drug treatment.
While noting that it is still early, Beshear told Storm that the Bevin administration had not contacted him to discuss any legal issues to close Kynect, but said he would give advice if asked. He also said he would advocate to keep it open and to spend the money saved on other needed policies.
“On the legal end, understand that this has never been done before. No state has ever dismantled a successful exchange — why would they?” Beshear said. “It works. It’s providing a great service to consumers.”