Carrie Banahan, director of Kynect, is named one of Governing magazine’s nine Public Officials of the Year

Carrie Banahan, executive director of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, has been selected by Governing magazine as one of nine 2014 Public Officials of the Year.

The magazine, for state and local government officials, has presented the awards since 1994 to recognize excellence in state and local government.

The magazine said it chose Banahan “for her tireless work overseeing the creation, development and promotion of Kynect,” the brand for the insurance exchange created under the federal health-reform law. Her profile will be featured in the December issue of the publication.

“Lots of things had to go right before Kentucky became the nation’s gold standard for health-care implementation, and the first thing we did right was to name Carrie Banahan as kynect’s executive director,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a release from his office. “Carrie not only had the perfect mix of experience and technical know-how to direct Kynect, she had the passion for the job.”

Over her more than three decades of public service, Banahan has served as deputy commissioner of the Department of Insurance, deputy commissioner of the Department for Medicaid Services and executive director of the Office of Health Policy in the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

“Carrie was truly the perfect person for this job. It is as if her whole career has been training her for this very opportunity,” Cabinet Secretary Audrey Haynes said in the release. “She is certainly deserving of this prestigious honor.”

Kynect has enrolled more than 521,000 Kentuckians in health care coverage, with three out of every four enrollees reporting they did not have health insurance prior to signing up, says the release. The Gallup Organization found that the percentage of Kentuckians without health insurance fell from 20.4 percent in 2013 to 11.9 percent midway through 2014, second only to Arkansas, the other Southern state that expanded Medicaid.

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