House bills would keep kynect and expanded Medicaid

03/01/2016 05:53 PM

FRANKFORT – State Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, has filed two bills that would instruct the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to continue kynect, the state healthcare exchange and expand the Medicaid program to the fullest extent allowed by law.

House Bill 5 calls for the cabinet to continue to operate a state healthcare exchange and provide the current same functions and may expand those functions as permitted by federal and state laws.

The office would oversee enrollment in health coverage and the purchase and sale of qualified health plans in the individual market, enable eligible individuals to receive premium tax credits and cost sharing reductions, and enable small businesses to receive tax credits; coordinate initiatives related to electronic health information technology; and enter into contracts with appropriate entities.

House Bill 6 would continue the current expansion of the Medicaid program, allowing qualified Kentuckians the opportunity to apply for and receive healthcare coverage at little or no cost.

The legislation would also commission an independent third party analysis of both healthcare programs, Kentucky’s uninsured rate, access to care, and any improvements in health indicators.

Owens says that his legislation will take the uncertainty and confusion away from people who are trying to navigate the sometimes confusing healthcare system.

“There is a significant number of people in our state who need healthcare, and I think the government’s program is basically set to decrease or not provide that healthcare,” Owens said. “These people need a voice and it’s my way of being a voice of those folks, who, in my view, have no voice.”

Owens points out that one of the biggest advantages of kynect, over the federal exchange, are the “kynectors”, community based healthcare officials who are trained to provide one-on-one assistance to individuals seeking healthcare.

“You have to each year apply, so if you don’t have these ‘kynectors’, when your renewal comes up, how many folks are going to go off because they can’t navigate the system?” Owens said.

A new website created by the administration of Gov. Matt Bevin, called Benefind, came online February 29 and is designed as a portal for Kentucky Medicaid beneficiaries and other welfare recipients to apply for health services.

Owens believes that without the personal touch of the “Kynectors” recipients will fall through the cracks and lose their healthcare coverage.

“You won’t have the “Kynectors” to help people navigate it,” Owens said. “Why would you want to do something that would retard your progress towards improving healthcare, and the health status of Kentuckians?”


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