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First On Bevin's To-Do List: Ending Kynect and Changing Marriage Licenses

Matt Bevin
Matt Bevin

Governor-elect Matt Bevin on Friday announced the early priorities of his administration: dismantling the state-run health insurance exchange and removing county clerks' names from marriage licenses.

In his first news conference since the election on Tuesday, Bevin said he hopes to have Kentucky's health insurance exchange, Kynect, dismantled by the end of next year.

“It adds no value," he said.

Bevin said Kynect  is “redundant” because the state can instead participate in the federal health insurance exchange. But if the state switches to the federal exchange, Kentuckians will have to pay a 3.5 percent surcharge on insurance policies. Since the Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2013, Kentuckians pay a 1 percent surcharge that funds the Kynect.

Kynect was a signature achievement of Bevin's predecessor, outgoing Gov. Steve Beshear, and has been hailed as a model by Affordable Care Act advocates.

Bevin also reiterated his plan to scale back the state’s expanded Medicaid system, emphasizing that “there is not going to be a continuation of enrolling people at 138 percent of the federal poverty level.” To date, more than 400,000 Kentuckians have gained health insurance through the Medicaid expansion.

Bevin said the state would apply for waivers with the federal government that would allow his administration to craft its own Medicaid system that would “involve people having skin in the game.”

“It will involve people having involvement in their own health outcomes, taking financial and personal responsibility for these things,” Bevin said.

Bevin's other priority stems from the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling effectively legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis grabbed national headlines in September for her defiant stance— which included a stint in jail — against same-sex marriage.

Bevin also said he would issue an executive order to change the state’s marriage licenses so that county clerks won’t have to sign them. His proposal is to make marriage licenses available online or at clerks’ offices in hard copy. The paper documents would allow couples to have them independently notarized and then filed away with the clerk, like a deed.

“This will remove them from being the officiant on that document,” Bevin said. "And this is one way that we will remove something from the landscape that, frankly, doesn’t even need to be there.”

Bevin is assembling his leadership team with the assistance of Mac Brown, head of distilling giant Brown-Forman, and a group of conservative leaders. The governor-elect said he would begin announcing his cabinet next week, starting with his general counsel and chief of staff.