Kentucky’s Republican governor is following through on a campaign pledge and dismantling the state’s health insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Matt Bevin sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell late last month informing her of his plans to close down Kynect and transition residents to the federal site, HealthCare.gov, for health coverage.
The changes will not affect anyone shopping for insurance for the current enrollment period, which ends Jan. 31. Nor will it affect anyone who signed up for Medicaid through Kynect.
In a statement Monday, Bevin’s office said he had taken steps to eliminate the “redundancy” of Kynect. He previously had pledged to shut down the exchange because “it adds no value” given the existence of HealthCare.gov.
The former Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, had urged Bevin to maintain the exchange, noting that it is financed through a surcharge on insurance plans. Shutting Kynect would cost at least $23 million in state money, Beshear said.
Kentucky’s health exchange has been one of the most successful state marketplaces, and advocates said Monday that Bevin’s move will set back efforts to reach the uninsured. As of Sept. 30, about 87,000 Kentuckians had health coverage through Kynect.
HHS spokesman Ben Wakana said that the federal agency is committed to a “seamless transition” but that it “will require strong cooperation and commitment” from the state.