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Gov. Beshear Defends Kynect, Medicaid Expansion

Gov. Steve Beshear on Friday defended Kentucky's health care exchange and Medicaid expansion, both of which are facing drastic reforms by his incoming successor.

The news conference in Frankfort was supposed to focus on the final report on the kentuckyhealthnow initiative, but Beshear instead focused largely on the success of the state's health insurance exchange, Kynect, and the Medicaid expansion program.

"There are only two factors … on which to judge the health care solutions we've employed in the last eight years. No. 1: Are they working? And No. 2: Can we afford them?" he said.

Beshear emphatically said the answer to both questions is yes.

"I am encouraging this incoming administration to just look at the data — just look at the facts, look at where we are today as opposed to where we were two or three years ago and make decisions based on those facts and those figures," he said.

Last week, Governor-elect Matt Bevin said he believes Kynect is redundant because the federal government also offers a health care exchange. He said he intends to dismantle the state marketplace.

Bevin also said he intends to roll back the Medicaid expansion, which has led to 400,000 Kentuckians getting health care coverage. The governor-elect has said the expansion will become too costly for the state.

Beshear, at times striking a restive tone on Friday, said the cost of Medicaid expansion to the general fund is $257.3 million over the next two years.

He said with the federal government paying for services under the Affordable Care Act, the state has saved $265 million that it would have ordinarily been paying for services related to public health, mental health and substance abuse.

Beshear also said the growth of revenue as a result of additional jobs and goods is an estimated $246.8 million. And through contracts found in the Medicaid program with managed care organizations, the state has earned $45.7 million from the MCOs paying a one percent assessment fee.

"Of course if we get rid of expansion and those health care customers go away, it all happens in reverse. The industry will contract and that tax money will go away," he said.

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