Passport Health Plan expansion in Louisville rides on fate of Af - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Passport Health Plan expansion in Louisville rides on fate of Affordable Care Act

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Passport Health Plan's headquarters in Commerce Crossings Passport Health Plan's headquarters in Commerce Crossings

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Passport Health Plan was first billed as a big game-changer for West Louisville, and was expected to bringing hundreds of jobs and hope for the city's poorest, high-crime community.

But now the deal for the company to come to west Louisville is on shaky ground, dependent in large part on events hundreds of miles away.

Kevin Brand has grown very familiar with doctors' officers.

"I was 300, I was on insulin...I was a diabetic and she helped me get that under control," said Brand. 

When Brand was diagnosed, he had no medical coverage through work. He depends on the Affordable Care Act and Passport Insurance to help pay the bills. 

His story shows what's driving Passport's planned expansion.

"In Jefferson County, our membership is almost 70 percent west of I-65," said Mark Carter, CEO of Passport Health Plan.

Passport promised to build its new headquarters at the corner of S. 18 Street and W. Broadway, bringing 550 current employees and 500 new jobs. However, if lawmakers unravel the Affordable Care Act, that could change.

Carter says Passport will build, but most of those new jobs would be cut. 

"If the federal government rolled back expansion in Kentucky, that would probably cause our business to shrink by about a third," Carter said. "So I am concerned about it, but it's something I can't control, so we're planning for different scenarios."

So are medical providers. 

"Yes, this has been a topic with over 75 percent of my patients," said Karla Jarvis, FNP-C of Jarvis Family Medical. "If they don't have the insurance, where are they going to receive their care from?"

Right now, U.S. Senate leaders are drafting a healthcare overhaul bill behind closed doors. The House version died after the public learned 23 million Americans would lose coverage if it passed. 

Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul is considered a swing vote.

"I'm disagreeing with some Republicans on how we fix it as well," Paul said. "Republicans are just going to dump a bunch of money in to subsidize that market. To my mind, that's not a good solution."

It leaves practitioners, patients and some of Passport's plans in limbo. 

It just worries me, that's all," Brand said.

Passport plans to open its new headquarters at S. 18th Street and West Broadway by late 2019.

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