The Chatter: Ky. Health Co-op goes into liquidation, House passes bill on continuous conduct, search on for new KSP head

01/16/2016 03:10 PM

Weeks before the termination of its final health plan, a Franklin Circuit Court judge placed Kentucky’s failed health cooperative into liquidation on Friday.

The Kentucky Department of Insurance, which put Kentucky Health Cooperative into rehabilitation Oct. 29, had requested that step as the nonprofit insurer established under the Affordable Care Act settles its finances. The group had insured some 51,000 Kentuckians, the last of whom will be covered by Jan. 31.

Most individual and group plans were terminated Jan. 1 as the cooperative became the sixth nonprofit insurer to cease operations in 2015, joining co-ops in states like New York, Tennessee and Nevada to stop offering health coverage.

Kentucky Insurance Commissioner Brian Maynard called the situation facing the cooperative “regrettable” but necessary. Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd set a deadline to file claims for Oct. 15.

“Once we determined the degree of financial hazard, the decision to move to liquidation was an easy one,” Maynard, whom the judge appointed as liquidator, said in a statement. “To continue an attempt to rehabilitate the fund would increase the risk of loss, jeopardizing both creditors and policyholders.”

The department expects the liquidation to take “several years,” according to frequently asked questions posted on its website. Liquidators will review all outstanding claims and pay based on Shepherd’s orders once the co-op’s assets have been collected, but some debts may go unresolved.

“While every attempt will be made to pay all debts in full, there is a possibility that some will be paid at a reduced rate or not at all,” the department said in the website post.

The Kentucky Health Cooperative had received $146.5 million in federal loans since its launch in 2014, but it underestimated initial enrollment projections by 80.6 percent and suffered $50.4 million in net revenue losses in its first year, according to a federal audit.

Officials at the co-op said their losses had shrunk to about $4 million by mid-2015, but they announced plans to close the program after receiving 12.6 percent of its requested federal risk-corridor reimbursement.

The co-op’s closure became a political topic in last year’s gubernatorial election. While former Gov. Steve Beshear and former Attorney General Jack Conway, the Democratic nominee for governor, argued that the co-op’s decision to close was inconsequential given the number of other insurers offering plans on the state’s health exchange, Gov. Matt Bevin and other Republicans pointed to its demise as evidence of the federal health law’s failures.

House passes bill against continuous abuse of vulnerable victims

The state’s House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill on Friday that would allow prosecutors to charge suspects with a continuous course of conduct against underage or otherwise vulnerable victims.

House Bill 109, sent to the Senate on a 91-0 vote, would allow individuals to be charged with a continuous course of conduct in a number of crimes, such as rape, sexual abuse and human trafficking, against vulnerable victims if the offenses occurred at least twice over a specified time frame.

Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, said the bill came after a Kentucky Supreme Court decision last year overturning convictions against a man who abused and sodomized his 6-year-old stepdaughter “two to three times a week during the five-month period her mother was deployed in the military.” The high court ultimately ruled that the victim could not link exact acts with dates, she said.

“The incidents occurred with such frequency and such twisted morality that acts were hard to distinguish,” Jenkins said. “… Think about a child that on a normal day may not remember that Halloween comes before Christmas. They can remember horrific acts that have been committed to them in some details but may not remember the specific date.”

A similar bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary committee on Thursday in Senate Bill 60. Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, sponsors the legislation.

His opponent in last year’s attorney general’s race, Attorney General Andy Beshear, testified for HB 109 when it came before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Westerfield said he was glad to get support from a number of advocates, including Beshear, when speaking with Pure Politics on Thursday.

“You’ve got a lot of advocacy groups that see the value in this,” he said.

Interview panel assembled for next KSP commissioner

Rep. Robert Benvenuti will chair a seven-member search committee for the next Kentucky State Police Commissioner.

The panel was announced Friday. Bevin’s transition team has identified highly qualified candidates for the panel to interview, and the committee will present names for the governor’s consideration, according to a news release.

The committee will include Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley, two current KSP officers, two retired KSP troopers and a community representative.

“Governor Bevin wants to ensure that the law enforcement community has input and buy-in on the selection of its leader,” Tilley said in a statement. “The committee makeup – in particular the four state troopers – will bring a unique and important perspective, drawing on their personal experiences, the experiences of their colleagues and the historical perspective of the agency.”

Benvenuti, R-Lexington, said he was honored to chair the committee and “have the opportunity to support our men and women in uniform in this meaningful way.”

“I’m humbled that Governor Bevin and Secretary Tilley have asked me to be a part of this very important process,” he said in a statement.

KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer currently leads the agency.


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