FRANKFORT — Gov.-elect Matt Bevin said Friday he wants to dismantle Kentucky's health care exchange known as Kynect by the end of 2016.
He also said during his first media availability after his win Tuesday in Kentucky's race for governor that one of his first actions after he is sworn into office Dec. 8 is to sign an executive order to remove the names of county clerks from marriage licenses.
He hopes that will address the controversy earlier this year when Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis declined to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriages are legal.
Bevin, who said during the campaign that he would make public his tax returns after he is elected, was asked when he plans to do so.
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"I don't," he said, declining to take additional questions on that subject.
Bevin also said he had spent the morning meeting various legislative leaders of the House and Senate and plans to start making appointment announcements next week, naming his general counsel and chief of staff.
One of the biggest changes the new governor plans is to end the health care exchange outgoing Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear set up by executive order in the wake of the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
About 500,000 Kentuckians now get health care coverage through Kynect.
Bevin said he is committed to dismantling Kynect because it is "a redundancy" of what the federal government offers and "it adds no value."
"We in Kentucky will not pay twice for the same thing," he said, adding there is a reason more than 35 states have not set up such programs.
During the open enrollment period for insurance, Bevin said his administration will transition people from the state to the federal level.
"We will find an orderly way to accommodate this," he said.
He also said the state will try to get federal waivers to allow him to impose more restrictions. "We're not looking for draconian measures. We're not looking to upset the apple cart," he said.
For people who are worried, Bevin said, "Don't worry."
He noted that he grew up below the federal poverty line and knows what it is like "to live in that world."
The second Republican to lead Kentucky in the last 40 years said he not only will remove the names of county clerks from marriage licenses but will make the forms available online. They then will be filed with the clerks as other forms are, he said.
Bevin took questions from reporters for about 10 minutes in the Capitol Rotunda.
He appeared relaxed, noting that he captured 106 of Kentucky's 120 counties in Tuesday's election.
Before taking questions, he picked up a microphone and told reporters, "I promise I won't sing to you."
Then he focused on the job at hand.
"We have five weeks (until Inauguration Day) and a lot of wood to chop," he said.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, said after a closed-door meeting Friday afternoon in the Capitol Annex with House Democrats that they would be open to hear any proposals from Bevin.
"I don't think we should draw lines in the sand at this point. We ought to see if we all can play in the sandbox," he said when asked about Bevin's desire to do away with Kynect.
Stumbo said the legislature did not create Kynect and that he did not know if it could be ended by an executive order. Stumbo noted that two studies by the Beshear administration about Kynect found that it adds as much to the state's General Fund as it costs.
When asked about Bevin's plans, Beshear's office released a statement encouraging people to sign up for Kynect during the current open enrollment period.
"Health experts from around the country have consistently called Kentucky a national leader for bringing coverage to over half a million Kentuckians through Kynect," Beshear said. "I encourage people who are currently uninsured and those who previously purchased a plan on Kynect to come back and shop again during open enrollment, because they may find an even better plan for their family."
Stumbo also said he has no problem with Bevin's plan to issue an executive order to remove names of county clerks from marriage licenses.
"I would encourage him to do that," he said.
The attorney for Davis, Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said Bevin's plan to remove the names of county clerks from marriage licenses is what she has been requesting for months.
"This promise will enable her and other clerks to do their jobs without compromising religious values and beliefs. This is a clear victory for our client's continued freedom," Staver said.