Kentucky to dismantle its ObamaCare marketplace

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Kentucky’s new Republican governor, Matt Bevin, has notified the Obama administration that he plans to dismantle the state’s ObamaCare marketplace. 

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Bevin, who was sworn in last month, promised to scrap the marketplace, called Kynect, as part of his campaign, but he is now making it official. 

Kentucky is one of 12 states that operates its own marketplace, and after it is dismantled, the federal government will operate the marketplace for Kentucky residents, who will still be able to sign up for ObamaCare coverage. The decision does not take effect until after the sign-up period now occurring is over, so ongoing enrollments will be unaffected.

Bevin’s office said in a statement to WFPL News in Kentucky that having the state run the marketplace is a “redundancy.”

But ObamaCare supporters point to Kentucky as a success story in reducing the uninsured rate given the efforts of the previous governor, Democrat Steve Beshear. They warn that a federally run marketplace could mean less local knowledge and outreach efforts. 

It also cost around $290 million in federal funds to set up the marketplace, and dismantling it is projected to cost around $23 million in state funds.

“A successful transition from Kynect to the federal Marketplace will require strong cooperation and commitment from the state of Kentucky to its residents who have gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act,” Ben Wakana, spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said in a statement. “HHS is committed to work with the state on a seamless transition.” 

Separately, Bevin says that he will change Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare. He says that he does not want to scrap it entirely but instead wants to negotiate with the Obama administration to put a conservative twist on the program, as other Republican-led states have done. 

Possibilities include requiring enrollees to pay premiums, but the state has not yet made a specific proposal.