beshear 12-2-19

Kentucky Gov.-elect Andy Beshear on Dec. 2, 2019.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Gov.-elect Andy Beshear refused multiple times on Monday to say whether he might reverse a last-minute move by outgoing Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration to cut Louisville’s Passport Health Plan out of the state’s Medicaid managed care business.

Beshear, who takes office on Dec. 10, said it would be “premature” to discuss his administration’s options to address the Passport situation, citing the legal formalities involved with awarding state contracts.

“There’s a lot of rules and regulations that will be in play, but my commitment is to do the right thing once we have all the information,” Beshear said in an interview with WDRB’s Lawrence Smith.

The incoming governor added that it was “concerning” that the Bevin administration decided to award “$8 billion in contracts with 11 days to go” in office.

Beshear also said he is “committed” to getting Passport’s stalled construction project for a headquarters building in west Louisville back on track, “whether it is through this project or another.”

“That building symbolizes so much hope, but we can’t let it become false hope,” Beshear said. “… It is time to bring real jobs and real economic progress to west Louisville.”

Passport is a nonprofit formed in the late 1990s by Louisville healthcare providers like the University of Louisville and Norton Healthcare to manage Medicaid benefits for low-income people in the Louisville area.

The state later expanded Medicaid managed care, allowing for-profit insurers into the business.

The decision announced Nov. 27 awards the state’s Medicaid contracts for 2020 through 2025 to five large, mulit-state health insurance companies: Aetna Better Health of Kentucky; Humana Health Plan, Inc.; Molina Healthcare of Kentucky; UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Kentucky; and WellCare Health Insurance of Kentucky.

Passport and Anthem – which also has Medicaid business today and was left out of the new round of contracts – have said they will appeal the decision.

Those appeals will likely be decided by a Finance and Administration Cabinet secretary appointed by Beshear.

If the decision holds up, about 200,000 low-income people in the Louisville region who receive health coverage through Passport – and another 100,000 scattered throughout the state – would be transferred to a new managed care provider starting July 1, 2020.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2019 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.