2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

UPDATE: Kentucky: It's Official: Kiss Kynect Goodbye; Bevin pulls the plug.

Not that it'll save the state any money or anything (and in fact could end up costing them more, both in terms of the cost of winding down the organization/transitioning to the federal exchange as well as the higher fees which will apparently be required), but doing something sensible doesn't seem to be part of Matt Bevin's DNA:

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Following through on a campaign pledge, Gov. Matt Bevin has notified federal authorities he plans to dismantle kynect, Kentucky's health insurance exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act.

In a Dec. 30 letter to Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bevin said he plans to wind down the state health exchange and transition Kentuckians to the federal site, healthcare.gov, to shop for insurance under the law also known as Obamacare.

...But the move is sure to disappoint some health consumer advocates who had urged Bevin to keep the site, praised for its accessibility and ease of use. The advocates have said it helped hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians sign up for health coverage.

Bevin, a Republican, had pledged to dismantle the health exchange authorized by executive order of his predecessor, Steve Beshear, a Democrat. Bevin's letter said he wants the transition to the federal site to occur "as soon as is practicable."

Bevin has said his goal is to complete the transition by the end of 2016.

Unlike the other three states which have dropped their state-run exchanges (Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii), Kentucky's ACA exchange operated pretty much flawlessly from Day One. It's beloved by the residents, has an award-winning marketing campaign and costs the state less than moving to the federal exchange would.

So naturally Bevin is pulling the plug.

As I said last month:

This stunt reminds me very much of when the GOP took over the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010...and promptly got rid of the array of energy-efficient lighting, biodegradable materials and other environmentally-friendly materials which the Democrats had implemented over the previous four years, switching back to incandescent lightbulbs and non-biodegradable styrofoam cups.

They didn't do this because doing so would save money or for any other remotely justifiable purpose; they did it simply because it was the opposite of what the Democrats had done, logic and common sense be damned.

Smooth move, Kentucky voters. This is what you voted for. But I'm sure Bevin will find some way of blaming his decision to kill a highly popular, highly effective bright spot in Kentucky's healthcare story...on President Obama.

"Sometimes I park in handicapped spaces
While handicapped people make handicapped faces."

--Denis Leary, "Asshole"

UPDATE: Welcome Chris Hayes followers!!

Also, In other news, which I'm sure are complete coincidences...

In other news related to Kentucky's Medicaid program, Lisa Lee, the Medicaid commissioner appointed by Beshear, has resigned.

NEWS: KENTUCKY INSURANCE COMMISSIONER SHARON CLARK TO LEAVE THE DEPARTMENT, three sources tell @InsuranceSNLLiz and me

— Adam Cancryn (@adamcancryn) January 11, 2016

Clark has served since '08. Is also NAIC president-elect & chaired Ky's Health Benefit Exchange Advisory Board #kentucky cc: @charles_gaba

— Adam Cancryn (@adamcancryn) January 11, 2016

Oh, and a little follow-up regarding the claims that shutting down kynect and moving to the federal exchange would "save Kentucky money", as I noted at the top, think again:

Kynect has an annual budget of about $28 million, funded by its 1 percent assessment on health premiums. The assessment would increase to 3.5 percent in a federal exchange, and dismantling Kynect would cost the state an estimated $23 million in one-time expenses, said Audrey Tayse Haynes, head of Kentucky's Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

I should also note that yes, I've even made the case myself that in general, it may be more cost-effective/less confusing to move states to the federal exchange now that the King v. Burwell case has been decided. HOWEVER, I was referring to states where the exchanges a) are still having ongoing technical problems and/or b) are having trouble financing their operations. For instance, Vermont's exchange is still kind of clunky (last I heard, anyway), and the VT, RI and DC exchanges have such small populations to work with that they may have sporadic funding issues. If any of these three decided to make the move, it would be perfectly reasonable.

In the case of kynect, nowever, none of this applies: The Kentucky state exchange has operated smoothly since launching in October 2013, and unlike some state exchanges, they don't appear to have had any funding issues to speak of. Bevin is tearing it down for absolutely no practical reason whatsoever; it makes zero sense from an economic, efficiency or branding perspective.