Kentucky: Good news! It sure looks like Andy Beshear plans on dusting off kynect if elected Governor (Update: He won!)
As I've noted several times recently, the "break off of HealthCare.Gov & establish your own state-based ACA exchange" train continues to pick up steam, with the following states having committed to either firing up their own, separate exchange website platform or at the very least going halfway by establishing their own exchange entity (which includes a board of directors, their own marketing/outreach budget, the ability to dictate which plans are allowed onto the exchange and so forth) if they haven't already done so.
In addition to the 12 states which already operate their own full exchange platforms, the ones making the move include Nevada (which has already gone live); New Mexico (already halfway there, completing the move next year); New Jersey & Pennsylvania (going halfway this year, with a full split scheduled for next year); Maine (halfway next year, possibly full in 2021?); and, just last week, Virginia (which would presumably split halfway next year and fully in 2021...assuming Democrats are able to flip both the state House and Senate this November).
I also noted on Friday that Oregon, which is already "halfway there", is seriously thinking about making the full split as well...although it sounds like they wouldn't be able to do so until 2022 or 2023 due to their existing contract with the federal exchange.
There's one more state which I've mentioned here and there as potentially breaking off onto their own exchange as well, although until now I didn't have any evidence of this: Kentucky.
Kentucky famously operated their own very successful and beloved state-based ACA exchange under the name "kynect". It was one of the few ACA exchanges to operate properly out of the gate, and it was created via executive order by Kentucky's previous governor, Democrat Steve Beshear.
Unfortunately, in 2015, Beshear was succeeded by Republican Mike Bevin, who campaigned on (and made good on) dismantling kynect...for no particular reason other than spite, as far as I can tell.
Seriously...to the best of my knowledge, no one in Kentucky, even Republicans, was asking for kynect to be shut down. Even those who claimed to "hate Obamacare" also "loved kynect" (granted, most of them had no clue that the two were one in the same, but whatever).
It wasn't really even a cost saving measure, since less than a year after kynect was shut down and the state exchange was moved to the HealthCare.Gov platform, the federal government started charging Kentucky insurance carriers a 3.0% premium fee...which is considerably higher than the fees most state exchanges charge.
Well, it's 4 years later, Matt Bevin is pretty unpopular in Kentucky, and his Democratic opponent just happens to be Steve Beshear's son, Attorney General Andy Beshear. Seeing how kynect was one of the proudest accomplishments of his father's tenure, and given that it would be less expensive to operate kynect than to keep outsourcing their ACA exchange hosting to HC.gov, it only made sense for me to assume that Beshear would likely re-establish the state exchange if elected Governor a couple of weeks from now.
I didn't have any evidence of this until now...it was pure conjecture on my part. Today, however, I visited Beshear's campaign website and found this (it was apparently uploaded back in March):
Guaranteeing Coverage for People with Pre-Existing Conditions
Six years ago, Kentucky said we’re taking charge of healthcare reform and that’s what we did, creating the Kynect program, one of the most successful in the country. Matt Bevin thought that the federal government could do a better job and dismantled Kynect. That was dead wrong, and as governor, I will fix it. When we lead from Kentucky, we succeed. In the first year, expanding health care access injected about $2 billion into our economy and almost half a million Kentuckians got access to the care they needed through the expansion of Medicaid.6 In addition, before the reform, even more Kentuckians –almost 2 million—lived in fear of losing the health insurance they did have. That’s because insurance companies could deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition—anything from asthma to hemophilia to pregnancy
He doesn't state flat-out that he'll relaunch the kynect exchange, but that sure as hell sounds like what he has in mind.
UPDATE: Well, Beshear did indeed win the Kentucky Governorship last night, so we'll see what happens...