Bills to preserve Kynect and Medicaid expansion are going nowhere, put prompt a lively debate among legislators on KET

Democratic state Rep. Darryl Owens of Louisville has filed bills to keep Gov. Matt Bevin from keepimng his campaign promises to dismantle the Kynect health-insurance exchange and scale back the expansion of Medicaid under federal health reform.

Owens acknowledged that House Bill 5 and House Bill 6 would likely get nowhere in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans who support Bevin’s approaches. However, but the filing of the bills prompted a lively discussion among four legislators on Bill Goodman’s “Kentucky Tonight” program on KET Feb. 29.

Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, said that when voters elected Bevin in November, “They were not aware they
were voting against their own interests and they’re very upset about that.”

Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, said Democrats are misleading the public: “Those people who have expanded Medicaid
think we’re taking their coverage away.” He said Bevin’s moves are intended to save costs: “A lot of this is not sustainable.”

House Democratic Caucus Chair and state Party Chair Sannie Overly said many Kentuckians got health insurance for the first time under federal health reform, and “We have a chance here in Kentucky to have a
healthier future.”

Rep. Stan Lee, R-Lexington, said “The commonwealth is not healthy if over one-quarter of our
citizens are on Medicaid.” Neal said he couldn’t follow that argument.

Lee said the legislature should “do what we can to encourage a business
climate that would encourage better jobs to come to this state.”

Neal said the two goals are not in conflict because the state needs to have a healthy

Overly said the Medicaid expansion serves the working poor who were going
to emergency rooms, “and we were paying for that.” Now those people “get well checkups and
visits” at no charge.

Lee said, “That’s just another tired play from the Obama
playbook. He said it would reduce costs.”

Higdon said the Medicaid managed-care organizations “were supposed to work with people and
get them healthy but are instead making money by shortchanging our

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