, Corbin, KY

State News

May 16, 2013

Campaign to back health exchange


By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

The Affordable Health Care Act and — according to Gov. Steve Beshear — a healthier lifestyle for citizens are coming to Kentucky.

That is if opponents don’t succeed in blocking Beshear’s efforts in court.

Last week, Beshear announced Kentucky will expand Medicaid eligibility to about 308,000 low-income Kentuckians. On Wednesday, he announced a new website to promote an online marketplace to help those people determine if they’re eligible for Medicaid and for about 330,000 others without coverage to purchase health insurance, some with the benefit of tax credits or direct subsidies.

The exchange is a component of the federal health care reform — the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare as it’s known to its critics. States can set up their own or if they choose not to, the federal government will set up one for them.

David Adams, who attended the Wednesday press conference where Beshear announced the new website, has sued to block the establishment of the exchange without legislative approval. A hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday in Franklin Circuit Court.

Beshear said he isn’t concerned about the suit.

“I think it’s very clear as governor I’ve got the authority under the constitution and laws of Kentucky to implement this exchange,” Beshear said.

Adams said there is no provision in the state constitution that allows the governor to expend money which hasn’t been appropriated by the legislature. Some Republican lawmakers also question Beshear’s authority to establish the exchange without their approval.

Beshear points to a state law that allows the state to “maximize” federal funds available for such programs.

The federal government supplied a $253 million grant to help set up the exchange and Beshear said it will be “self-sufficient” through assessments on insurance companies once the federal grant expires.

He said open enrollment for individuals seeking to buy health insurance through the exchange begins Oct. 1 and continues through March 31, 2014. Banahan said the effective date of coverage is Jan. 1, 2014.

As a combined result of Medicaid expansion and the health benefit exchange, Beshear said, “quality, affordable health insurance (will be) available for the first time ever to every single citizen of the commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Small businesses of 50 or fewer employees will also be able to enroll employees beginning Oct. 1 and thereafter and those with 25 or fewer employees may qualify for tax credits to help them pay for it.

Banahan said there are four ways to enroll: online, by mailed application, by toll free phone number (1-855-4kynect) or in person

She said so far five companies, Anthem, Humana, Bluegrass Family Health, United Healthcare and The Coop, a licensed health maintenance organization or HMO, have filed notice of intent to offer plans through the exchange. They have not filed rates yet but should do so by the end of May, she said.

Banahan said she doesn’t anticipate too much difficulty in navigating the site for most people.

“We expect it to be similar to a Travelocity or Expedia shopping experience where you go online to book a flight or a room,” she said.

But the impact will be “huge,” Beshear said, noting Kentucky ranks at or near the bottom of nearly every health statistic: premature deaths, diabetes, cancer, heart disease and preventable hospitalizations.

Study after study, Beshear said, shows “a correlation between health coverage and health status.” Improving Kentucky’s overall health status will save the state money and improve its economic outlook through a healthier workforce and student population.

“We want everyone to know a healthier future for Kentucky is on the way and where to apply when open enrollment arrives,” he said.

Toward that end, the administration staff will attend community events and provide other information like a video Beshear previewed at the press conference to build awareness of the exchange before it is up and running in October.

The exchange, dubbed “kynect” ( will allow about 600,000 n Kentucky to determine if they qualify for the expanded eligibility for Medicaid or shop for plans which will be offered by at least five insurance companies, according to Carrie Banahan, director of the health benefit exchange.

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

Text Only
State News
  • Grimes comes out firing on McConnell

    Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State who is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in this fall’s elections, went after the five-term incumbent in a speech here to a convention of local county officials.

    July 11, 2014

  • Conway, Comer address judge-execs

    It might have been a preview of next year’s Kentucky governor’s election — but county officials here for a convention probably didn’t expect one likely candidate to endorse a potential opponent.

    July 11, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes parade cases

    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes know a good place to look for votes when they see it.

    July 7, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes disagree on contraception case

    Kentucky’s Republican congressman praised Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that corporations may opt out of a requirement to provide employees contraceptive coverage through insurance plans.

    July 1, 2014

  • Beshear sings praises of Affordable Care Act

    Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told a Washington conference Tuesday that Kentucky’s embrace of the Affordable Care Act has been “life-changing” for thousands of Kentucky enrollees and “transformative” for Kentucky.

    June 18, 2014

  • Kentucky actually fares well under new EPA regs

    Kentucky politicians and the coal industry howled about the latest installment of greenhouse gas emission regulations issued last week by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • New EPA C02 regs examined

    Given their complexity and potential impact in coal-dependent states like Kentucky, there’s considerable confusion about new carbon emission regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • State budget officials predict ‘significant shortfall’

    With only 20 days left in the 2014 fiscal year, state budget officials announced Tuesday Kentucky faces an “inevitable” and “significant” revenue shortfall in both the General and Road Funds.

    June 11, 2014

  • Grimes ad blasts Obama for coal policies

    Mitch McConnell is no longer the only U.S. Senate candidate running against Democratic President Barack Obama.

    June 5, 2014

  • Legislative leaders blast carbon regs

    President Barack Obama’s efforts to rein in carbon emissions, blamed by science for changes in the climate, continues to draw harsh criticism from both political parties in Kentucky.

    June 5, 2014