By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service
Kynect, Kentucky’s health benefit exchange under the Affordable Care Act which was established by Gov. Steve Beshear’s executive order, survived another challenge Tuesday.
Republican state lawmakers have maintained Beshear doesn’t possess the authority to establish the exchange on his own, but a state court ruled the governor has such authority under a law passed by the General Assembly authorizing the governor to take steps necessary to implement federal programs. The ruling is under appeal.
But Kentucky law also requires regulations formulated by the executive branch to be reviewed by the legislature to determine if they are authorized by legislation, something it does through its Administrative Regulations Review Subcommittee.
So when the exchange regulations were put in front of the subcommittee Tuesday, Sen. Sara Beth Gregory, R-Monticello, challenged the statutory authority for the regulation.
Carrie Banahan, executive director of the exchange, and her Deputy Director Bill Nold, cited the same law under which Beshear created the exchange itself as authority for the regulations.
But Gregory pointed out there was no legislation which specifically authorized the exchange.
“I don’t think we have an applicable state law because there hasn’t been any legislation passed to establish this program,” Gregory said.
Sen. Joe Bowen, R-Owensboro, agreed.
“I think it is fair to say a lot of folks across the commonwealth question the broad authority the governor seems to have to put in place such a comprehensive health policy,” Bowen said.
Gregory then moved to find the regulations deficient and Bowen seconded the motion.
But that’s where the arcane procedures for regulations came into play.
The governor has the power to override the subcommittee’s decision if it finds a regulation deficient. But if the subcommittee finds a regulation deficient, that allows the full General Assembly to kill the regulation when it next convenes.
But the subcommittee rules require a majority vote of its membership or five votes — not just a majority of those present — to find regulations deficient.
Prior to Gregory’s motion, two members — Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, and Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville, left the room.
So when Gregory’s motion was put to a vote, there were only five members present. Gregory, Bowen and Harris voted to find the regulation deficient; Rep. Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, and Sen. Perry Clark, D-Louisville, voted against her motion.
So even though the vote was 3-2 to find the regulation deficient, the motion failed.
Contacted after the meeting, Bell said he left because he had “another (previously scheduled) meeting upstairs.” CNHI couldn’t reach Damron, but Banahan said he understood prior to the meeting that Damron had a private business meeting and would leave early.
She also said the administration is confident the law allowing it to implement programs to qualify for federal funding allows the establishment of the exchange.
Gregory, an attorney, disagreed, saying an executive order is not a statute and the legislature never passed a statute authorizing the exchange.
“I don’t think it is appropriate for the administration to go forward with something of this magnitude without statutory authority,” she said.
Kynect, Kentucky’s online health benefit exchange, began operating last week, taking applications for low cost or subsidized health insurance under provisions of the Affordable Care Act also called “Obamacare” by its critics.
While the exchange has suffered several glitches, it has been singled out by pro-ACA groups and some media reports for performing better than the national exchange or other state exchanges.
RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort
By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service
- State News
Prevailing wage bill dies in committee
The state House of Representatives will apparently not vote on a bill to remove the requirement that public school construction projects pay the area’s prevailing wage.
Bill would allow Paul to run for two offices
Most people know Kentucky Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is considering running for president in 2016. But, if he does, he wants to be able to hedge his bets by running for re-election to his Senate seat at the same time.
4,000 march, remember in Frankfort
This time the welcome was warmer; still cold, but the sun shone; and 50 years of progress was marked.
Same-sex marriage decisions
Kentucky’s Democratic Attorney General won’t appeal a federal judge’s decision that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states — but Kentucky’s Democratic governor will.
Almost time for budget talk at session
More than halfway through the 2014 General Assembly, little has been seen of lawmakers’ plans for a new two-year state budget — but that’s about to change.
Same-sex marriage now legally recognized in Ky.
At least for the time being, same-sex couples with valid marriage licenses from other states must be legally recognized as married in Kentucky.
Debate ensues over juvenile court proceedings opening to public
Some juvenile court proceedings may soon be open to the public, but the measure still faces some stiff opposition in the state Senate from some.
Medical marijuana bill clears House panel
Stephanie Shown knows it was a small victory in a war she and others calling for legalization of medical marijuana are likely to lose this year.
2 honored for work with sexually abused
It’s Erica Brown Myers’ job to help those who have been victimized by sexual abuse. But helping others can take a toll on the helper as well as the victim.
Clinton visits fuel Dems in CNHI communities
It’s tough being a Democrat in heavily Republican Laurel County. Just ask 81-year-old Bernice Chesnut of London.
- More State News Headlines
- Prevailing wage bill dies in committee