Governor-Elect Matt Bevin speaks on cabinet and the future of Kynect
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Governor-Elect Matt Bevin held a brief press conference at noon Friday to answer reporters' questions and provide an update on the status of his cabinet.
During the press conference, Bevin again refused to release his taxes, and but promised a fresh start in Kentucky politics, pointing to what he said was a clear mandate for the state to move in a fresh direction.
"I think the people of Kentucky have clearly spoken," Bevin said. "One-hundred and six out of 120 counties have said they want to chart a different direction, and even in those counties, strong support. There is the type of thing that rarely happens politically, where we have a clear mandate from people, where people clearly say, 'We want something new. We want to be heard.' And I think the powerful message coming out of this is the fact that the people of Kentucky want to be heard. They are saying, 'We want something different. We want a vision. We want something to believe in,' and this is what we are attempting to deliver. And I want them to know that I'm listening."
Bevin said he spent the morning meeting with state legislators (all except for House Republicans, who he said were unavailable due to a schedule conflict). Bevin said he hoped to begin announcing cabinet members early next week, but could not guarantee that they would all be named by Inauguration Day.
"I made a commitment during this campaign process that I am going to surround myself on average by people who have as much gray hair as myself," Bevin said, adding a moment later, "But we're not rushing to simply fill things."
The topic of the press conference quickly turned to the future of Kynect, the state health exchange.
"I want people to understand that I am committed to dismantling it over the long term because it adds no value," Bevin said. "There is no effective result of that state-level exchange that’s not available to the participants at the federal level. There's not. It is a redundancy that we as taxpayers in this state are paying for twice. There’s a reason that 35-plus other states have never utilized this and/or have gone back to using the federal exchange. Thirty-four never even set up a state exchange. So we in Kentucky will not pay twice for the same thing."
Bevin said his plan was to transition people from the state to the federal health insurance program during open enrollment. He said he hoped to have the process finished by the end of 2016.
Reporters also asked about the gap between those who aren't covered by Medicaid, but make too much income to be covered by the Affordable Care Act.
"These things do not end immediately," Bevin said. "They don’t. You don't take people's cards back. There is an open enrollment, for lack of a better term, for the same thing. People don't get Medicaid for life. There's a requalification process. I do not intend to re-enroll people at the same level going forward. There is not going to be a continuation of enrolling people at 138 percent of the federal poverty level. That is not going to happen. I've been clear on that from the beginning."
Bevin did admit that such a gap exists, however, and went on to address his solution for it.
"However, there are people that are now in this gap – the ones you’re talking about," Bevin said. "My intent is to find an orderly way that we can accommodate this. One of the ways in which this will be done is through re-enrollment, where there will be a certain natural amount of attrition that will take place. Additionally, we are starting the process of reaching out – we will reach out to CMS and apply for 115 waivers – the essential block grant, essentially, that will allow us to customize a solution for folks who are currently receiving Medicaid in the state of Kentucky. This is something that we need."
He ended by asking Kentuckians to be patient.
"We are going to move in a thoughtful way," he said. "We are not looking to make draconian moves. We are not looking to upset the applecart. These are real people. These are real lives. And for those that are out there and are concerned and people who are worried: just bear with us. Be patient. I grew up below the poverty level. I have an appreciation for the fact – I had no health coverage in my entire life, until I was an active duty Army officer in my 20s. I know what it’s like to live in that world. I know the concerns that people have. We’re going to do right by the people of the Commonwealth and I just ask people to bear with us as we do so."
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