Lawsuit alleges state health insurance exchange is unauthorized

Tea Party activist David Adams filed a lawsuit Monday challenging Gov. Steve Beshear’s legal authority to create Kentucky’s health insurance exchange without approval from the General Assembly. The governor created the exchange by executive order to offer health insurance plans for Kentuckians under federal health reform, but did not ask the legislature to approve it.

Adams claims state law requires the exchange to get legislative approval, and he seeks an injunction against it. The law allows the governor to temporarily reorganize units of state government and calls for them to be approved by the General Assembly.

Beshear’s office says he exercised his constitutional authority to meet the requirements of federal law, reports Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Adams said in a telephone interview, “There is nothing in the constitution that allows him to set up a new bureaucracy that taxes, gains fees or spends money without legislative approval.” He added, “This isn’t about politics. It is simply about gubernatorial authority in the absence of legislative approval.”

Kentucky has received about $250 million from the federal government to cover the initial costs of exchange, but Adams said that is being spent rather quickly and funds will be exhausted by 2014, he said. The state will be responsible for all funding for the exchange beginning in 2015; it plans to fund it with fees from participating insurance companies.

Kentucky is one of 17 states that the federal government approved to build its own exchange, which will be operated by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and is expected to help insure more than 600,000 Kentuckians. (Read more)

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