Beshear: GOP playing "politicial games" with health exchange, says he has authority to create it

09/20/2012 04:41 PM

Governor Steve Beshear said the actions of Republican lawmakers at Wednesday’s interim joint committee on Health and Welfare, “don’t mean anything,” and he will continue to implement the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange.

Beshear, who is fresh off an economic development trip to India, said he has the authority to create the exchange through executive order. And he said it was prudent for Kentucky to do so because the Affordable Care Act, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June, calls for some type of system to match the uninsured with health coverage. If Kentucky’s government didn’t set up the exchange, the federal government would and it would penalize the state.

“Some of these folks just want to play political games, and I understand it. I guess it’s an election year. I don’t have time for it. I have to run this state. I have to make things happen. And I have to comply with federal law, and that’s what I’m stepping out to do,” Beshear said.

Beshear spoke with Pure Politics while in Lexington attending the official public welcome ceremony for international law firm Bingham McCutchen LLC, which is moving its administrative office there.

The exchange is the entity that will match up uninsured Kentuckians with private health insurance. It will specifically serve those who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but don’t have insurance through their jobs.

Republicans, led by Sen. David Givens of Greensburg, said during a legislative health and welfare committee meeting Wednesday that the governor didn’t have the authority to create a new agency with new functions without legislative approval. When Democratic lawmakers walked out, the Republicans voted by voice on a motion to reject Beshear’s executive order creating the exchange as a new agency under the Health and Family Services Cabinet.

While it doesn’t seem likely Beshear and Republican lawmakers will smooth over their differences on the issue, he did say it doesn’t seem likely the complaint will be heard in court.

“I don’t see any court action. All they did was grand stand a little bit, and I’m kind of used to that,” Beshear said.


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