Senate President Stivers calls for vote on kynect, expanded Medicaid

03/11/2016 04:30 PM

FRANKFORT – Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, called on House Speaker Greg Stumbo to debate two House bills which would make permanent the states healthcare exchange portal, saying he will do the same if the bills are passed and move on to the Senate.

House Bill 5, and House Bill 6, both sponsored by Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville, would require the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to operate a state healthcare exchange that would be substantially similar to kynect, and to keep the expanded Medicaid program.

In a speech on the Senate floor on Friday, Stivers outlined how, in his words, 5,400 jobs that were to have come about with the advent of kynect, have failed to materialize even though they were promised by the administration of former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.

“The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports since the implementation of Obamacare, which is a provision of the federal government under the President of the United States, projects that we have lost 3,500 jobs in the healthcare industry,” Stivers said.

Stivers pointed out that House Bills 5 and 6 are still sitting in the House, and he wants to see the bills come to the House floor for a discussion as well as the Senate to find out where every legislator stands on the issue.

“Let’s have those discussions, but more importantly, the public deserves to know where everybody stands on this issue,” Stivers said.

After Friday’s session, Stivers reiterated his promise to hear the bills on the Senate floor, if passed by the House.

“I would surmise is what they’re doing is just pandering and playing to a political base even though they don’t believe it’s good,” Stivers said.

As for people who feel that they have benefited the state healthcare exchange, Stivers says there will be alternatives available for them to continue to get help.

“Governor Bevin is working with the HHS to get a waiver,” Stivers said. “You see that there is money put in the second year of the budget to help do the transition. There are many alternatives than this, what I call a conglomeration of mistakes.

Stumbo said it was interesting that Stivers is attacking Obamacare when Gov. Bevin is redirecting Kentuckians to the federal healthcare exchange.

“I don’t understand why Sen. Stivers wants to debate Obamacare while his governor
is pushing Kentuckians to Obamacare by requiring them to go to the federal exchange which is Obamacare,” Stumbo said. “He’s dismantling our Beshearcare here in Kentucky that Kentuckians were so happy to have.”

Former Gov. Steve Beshear, founder of non-profit Save Kentucky Healthcare, said Stivers and GOP leaders are “once again touting misinformation about kynect and the state of healthcare in Kentucky.”

“Just this morning, Senate President Robert Stivers claimed that the creation of kynect cost Kentuckians $200 million, will cost residents an additional $400 million to keep operational, and that since the creation of kynect, Kentucky has lost 3,500 jobs in the healthcare sector,” Beshear said.

“Let me set the record straight once and for all, kynect was created using federal tax dollars and since January 2015 has been funded with revenues from a one percent premium assessment on insurance companies,” Beshear continued. “Zero dollars have been taken from the Kentucky General Fund to pay for this exchange.

“Additionally, just last week Governor Bevin’s own administration released data showing that the educational and health services sector in Kentucky gained 4,200 jobs in 2015 alone,” the former governor said.

Beshear went on to say that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the very source that Senator Stivers is citing, “has data that shows from January 2014, when kynect was launched, through November 2015, the latest hard data available, Kentucky’s education and health services sector has gained 11,500 jobs.”

“If they have evidence, it’s time to see it. Kentuckians deserve to see the facts when their healthcare is at stake,” Beshear concluded.


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