This guest commentary was co-authored by Democratic state Reps. Jim Wayne, Joni Jenkins, Mary Lou Marzian, Darryl Owens and Tom Burch, all of Louisville; George Brown, of Lexington; and David Watkins, of Henderson.
Insider Louisville has offered the Governor’s Office an opportunity to respond, and we are awaiting a reply.
The superbly accurate reporting of the Louisville Courier Journal’s Deborah Yetter, which outlines in detail the outrageous lies and subterfuge perpetrated upon Kentuckians by Gov. Matt Bevin regarding kynect, Benefind and expanded Medicaid, has pushed our outrage to the limit.
Gone are our assumptions that the Bevin Administration is just incompetent and ignorant of Kentucky’s complicated healthcare systems.
Instead we are now unequivocally convinced that Gov. Bevin’s goal is to deprive hundreds of thousands of families, children and seniors of the excellent healthcare kynect and expanded Medicaid is providing.
Despite incontrovertible evidence that Kentucky’s expanded Medicaid and kynect programs have created historic increases in Kentuckians’ access to healthcare and produced unprecedented economic development in the healthcare industry, Gov. Bevin refuses to believe the proof of these programs’ successes.
He turns a blind eye to the evidence and continues to repeat his dark promise to get rid of these programs.
Look at the evolution of chicanery, deception and fabrication the Bevin Administration has employed to date.
- Matt Bevin sailed into the governor’s office with the promise to get rid of “Obamacare,” the Republicans’ deliberately misleading moniker for Kentucky’s homegrown, nationally recognized and highly successful healthcare programs.
- Gov. Bevin, in his first weeks in office, cancelled the contract for all advertising for kynect and eliminated the vitally important kynectors. This dramatically complicated and reduced access for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.
- Next, we Democrats on the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources fumed as Cabinet Sec. Vicky Glisson spent weeks dodging our requests for information and fiscal evidence these programs weren’t sustainable as was being constantly brayed by Gov. Bevin.
- When we reached the point where we considered using subpoena power to extract the requested information, Sec. Glisson provided a PowerPoint which used questionable accounting methods to justify Gov. Bevin’s promise to dismantle kynect.
- To make matters worse, the new administration has even managed to bungle the rollout of another program, Benefind, which was engineered by former Gov Beshear solely for the purpose of complementing kynect to help consumers find supplemental assistance such as food stamps.
- Inexplicably, the Bevin administration has attempted to convert many people off of kynect and onto Benefind for healthcare purposes.
- Since the rollout of Benefind two weeks ago, massive, potentially catastrophic results have occurred.
- Thousands of Kentuckians have received letters requesting information already provided, been denied services by their doctors because their policies are unknowingly cancelled, and refused life-saving medications at pharmacies because their medical cards are invalid.
Why? Because the Bevin administration has gerrymandered the Benefind program to be something it is not, the online portal and rules engine for Medicaid in Kentucky.
Gov. Bevin, obviously realizing the disastrous consequences of his administration’s deceit as his very voters are being terminated from their policies, has now ramped up his mendacity and harmful intent to mislead.
He has laid the blame of the dreadful Benefind rollout on Gov. Beshear and his IT team, stating in a video message this week to his own employees (experiencing colossal call volume and frustration with the new program) that “we were told this was ready to go, it’s a program that’s been developed for years.”
This message flies in the face of Republican Minority Leader Jeff Hoover’s comments on the House floor last week as we passed House Bills 5 and 6 to preserve kynect and expanded Medicaid.
Republican Hoover said “The shift to healthcare.gov will not cause a single person or policy to be cancelled or a single person to lose coverage.”
The ultimate, outrageous irony of Gov. Bevin’s and the Republicans’ scheme is that they want to take a state program and convert it to a federal government program. This is in direct conflict of their own party’s often touted doctrine of Americans needing smaller government and less federal intrusion.
We now stand at a terrifying crossroads in Kentucky history.
Are we going to allow this governor to rip away a healthcare system that has provided coverage for 1.4 million people, created 14,500 healthcare jobs, decreased emergency room visits, made hospitals profitable, poured billions into local economies, and fostered a healthier population?
Or will Kentuckians mobilize in solidarity against Gov. Bevin’s deplorable mission to destroy kynect and expanded Medicaid, a mission that is already causing much pain, anguish and suffering for so many?
In the days remaining in the General Assembly, the Senate can still act on House Bills 5 and 6 passed overwhelmingly by the Democratically controlled House, to preserve the successful kynect program that is saving human lives and investing in our state’s economy.
We implore Kentuckians to immediately contact Gov. Bevin and their state senators to let them know how important the continued healthcare of our citizens is and demand they pass House Bills 5 and 6.