Kentucky governor Bevin to shut down state’s popular, successful health insurance exchange

As the implementation of Obamacare was a bitterly partisan, painfully awkward process throughout much of the country, Kentucky was the outlier. Then-governor Steve Beshear went all-in on implementing Obamacare to its fullest, over warnings from Democrats and Republicans alike that doing so could mean political disaster. After all, Kentuckians didn’t exactly have the hots for Obama at the time. They still don’t.

However, today Kentucky’s state-run health insurance exchange, Kynect (a name chosen for its K and Y and lack of an O) is one of the most efficient and effective insurance exchanges in the country. Between Kynect or the Medicaid expansion — which Kentucky was an outlier in the South for having accepted so quickly — over 500,000 Kentuckians signed up for health insurance during the program’s first year. That led the state’s uninsured rate to fall from over 20 percent to roughly 9 percent.

Kentucky Governor-elect Matt Bevin, via Wikimedia Commons

Kentucky Governor-elect Matt Bevin, via Wikimedia Commons

Many of these newly-insured Kentuckians have no idea that their access to affordable health insurance was made possible by the government — by Obama. But as long as the upshot is more people with health insurance, neither Beshear nor Obama cared all that much.

Apparently newly-inaugurated governor Matt Bevin does care.

Bevin, in keeping with promises he made when he ran for office, is set to dismantle Kynect and move Kentuckians over to the federal exchange. In practice, this won’t affect Kentuckians who already bought insurance through Kynect — at least not this year. Health insurance experts seem to think that the switch won’t affect the benefits consumers in the state receive. However, it will mean that future Kentuckians will be signing up for health insurance through the federal exchange instead of through the state. As silly as this may be, in a deep-red state like Kentucky, that could affect enrollment rates.

And again, we’re talking about one of the most successful health insurance exchanges in the country. It is the opposite of broken. Bevin is shutting it down despite the fact that it has made life measurably better for tens of thousands of Kentuckians.

As TalkingPointsMemo notes, Bevin’s got more room to dismantle Obamacare in Kentucky if he wants to, but he may hold off. During his campaign for governor, he initially suggested that he would roll back every iota of the health insurance expansion in Kentucky — including the Medicaid expansion — but later softened his tone and focused more on the exchange. He may, however, work with the federal government to change the way the state expands Medicaid, opting for a voucher program a la Indiana.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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7 Responses to “Kentucky governor Bevin to shut down state’s popular, successful health insurance exchange”

  1. 1jetpackangel says:

    Hey, I do my best, but one person one vote only applies to normal people, ya know?

  2. 1jetpackangel says:

    As a Kentuckian: HELP ME.

  3. george1776 says:

    Kentucky, I do believe water from Flint has been diverted to your state. How can so many people be so stupid to elect this idiot. But that is the stupidity of these people, they are poor and white and they always vote against their better interest as they have in Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states surviving on Federal funding complements of the power states like California and New York who pay more in federal taxes that help these backward states.

  4. John says:

    My thoughts exactly. In the spirit if local control and individualism he’s moving people’s health insurance to the federal government’s exchange where people will be just one more number out of tens of millions. Head up ass much?

  5. angryspittle says:

    Jesus H. Christ, WTF is wrong with voters in these damn retrograde states?

  6. Caseyjr says:

    A Republican ceding state control to the Feds? I forgot Obama Derangement Syndrome trumps all conservative principles.

  7. TheAngryFag says:

    You know, rather than fining individuals for not signing up, they should actually fine the states. Because, a few idiots like Drudge aside, it really are these Republican state governors/legislatures that are the real problem so hit them where it counts.

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