Gov. Matt Bevin’s outrageous lies and subterfuge perpetrated upon Kentuckians regarding Kynect, Benefind and expanded Medicaid, as detailed by reporter Deborah Yetter in The Courier-Journal, has pushed our outrage to the limit.
Gone are our assumptions that the Bevin administration is just incompetent and ignorant of Kentucky's complicated health care systems.
Instead we are now unequivocally convinced that Bevin's goal is to deprive hundreds of thousands of families, children and seniors of the excellent health care Kynect and expanded Medicaid are providing.
Despite incontrovertible evidence that Kentucky's expanded Medicaid and Kynect have created historic increases in Kentuckians’ access to health care and produced unprecedented economic development in the health care industry, Bevin refuses to believe the proof of these successes and repeats his dark promise to get rid of these programs.
Look at the evolution of chicanery, deception and fabrication the Bevin administration has employed to date.
▪ Matt Bevin sailed into the governor's office with the promise to get rid of “Obamacare,” the Republicans’ deliberately misleading moniker for Kentucky's homegrown, nationally recognized and highly successful health-care programs.
▪ Bevin, in his first weeks in office, canceled the contract for all advertising for Kynect and eliminated the vitally important kynectors. This dramatically complicated and reduced access for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.
▪ Next, we Democrats on the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources fumed as Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Vicky Glisson spent weeks dodging our requests for information and fiscal evidence these programs weren't sustainable.
▪ When we reached the point of considering using subpoena power to extract the requested information, Glisson provided a PowerPoint which used questionable accounting methods to justify Bevin's promise to dismantle Kynect.
▪ To make matters worse, the new administration has even managed to bungle the rollout of another program, Benefind, which was engineered by former Gov. Steve Beshear solely for the purpose of complementing Kynect to help consumers find supplemental assistance such as food stamps.
▪ Inexplicably, the Bevin administration has attempted to convert many people off of Kynect and onto Benefind for health-care purposes.
▪ Since the rollout of Benefind two weeks ago, massive, potentially catastrophic results have occurred.
▪ Thousands of Kentuckians have received letters requesting information already provided, been denied services by their doctors because their policies are unknowingly canceled, and been refused lifesaving medications at pharmacies because their medical cards are invalid.
Why? Because the Bevin administration has jury-rigged the Benefind program to be something it is not, the online portal and rules engine for Medicaid in Kentucky.
Bevin, obviously realizing the disastrous consequences of his administration's deceit as his very voters are being terminated from their policies, has now ramped up his mendacity and harmful intent to mislead.
He has laid the blame for the dreadful Benefind rollout on Beshear and his IT team, stating in a video message to state employees (experiencing colossal call volume and frustration with the new program) that “we were told this was ready to go, it's a program that's been developed for years.”
This message flies in the face of Republican Minority Leader Jeff Hoover’s comments on the House floor last week as we passed House Bills 5 and 6 to preserve Kynect and expanded Medicaid. Hoover said “the shift to healthcare.gov will not cause a single person or policy to be canceled or a single person to lose coverage.”
The ultimate, outrageous irony of Bevin’s and the Republicans’ scheme is that they want to take a state program and convert it to a federal program. This directly conflicts with their own party’s often touted doctrine of Americans needing smaller government and less federal intrusion.
We now stand at a terrifying crossroads.
Are we going to allow this governor to rip away a health-care system that has provided coverage for 1.4 million people, created 14,500 health care jobs, decreased emergency room visits, made hospitals profitable, poured billions into local economies and fostered a healthier population?
Or will Kentuckians mobilize in solidarity against Bevin’s deplorable mission to destroy Kynect and expanded Medicaid, a mission that is already causing much pain, anguish and suffering for so many?
In the days remaining in the General Assembly, the Senate can still act on HB 5 and HB 6 passed overwhelmingly by the Democratic-controlled House, to preserve the successful Kynect program that is saving human lives and investing in our state’s economy.
We implore Kentuckians to immediately contact Bevin and their state senators to let them know how important the continued health care of our citizens is and demand they pass HB 5 and HB 6.
The authors are Democrats in the Kentucky House of Representatives and serve on the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources . Brown is from Lexington. Watkins is from Paducah. Jenkins is from Shively. The others are from Louisville.