Testimony offered to Senate Health and Welfare Committee opposing legislative approval of Kynect and Medicaid expansion
The following is an edited presentation of testimony offered by Bluegrass Institute CEO Jim Waters to the Kentucky Senate Health and Welfare Committee on April 11, 2016, in Frankfort.
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I’m Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions at bipps.org. The Bluegrass Institute is a free-market think tank focused on offering common sense, economically sound solutions to Kentucky’s greatest challenges.
Certainly one of the great challenges faced by too many of our fellow Kentuckians is finding affordable health insurance that provides an acceptable quality of care. Yet while the intention of government programs – and of most policymakers who vote for them – is to help the less fortunate, they often end up not only falling far short of fulfilling those intentions, but actually harming the very constituency they are meant to assist.
When former Gov. Steve Beshear established the state-based exchange Kynect by executive order in 2013, his administration projected the online insurance marketplace would provide 332,000 uninsured Kentuckians with access to affordable coverage. Yet fewer than a third of that anticipated number actually ever obtained coverage through the state-based exchange.
Seventy-five percent of those who signed up for plans on the exchange are being forced to find a new insurer as the Kentucky Health Cooperative, the exchange’s largest insurer, is closing down after losing $50 million last year – the most of any of the 22 Obamacare-subsidized cooperatives nationwide.
Even if the co-op would have remained open, its request to raise premiums by 25 percent during this past year – had they remained opened – combined with the previous year’s 20 percent in rate hikes would no doubt have exacerbated the situation reported by a recent study by Families USA study showing that high-deductible plans purchased though the state exchanges have resulted in one in four of those customers skipping doctor’s appointments and important medical tests.