Compare the Candidates: Bevin, Conway and Curtis on health care and the price of Medicaid

The three candidates in Kentucky’s 2015 governor’s race all have very different ideas on how the state should move forward with the expansion of Medicaid in the state and the health exchange set up through the Affordable Care Act.

At the Kentucky Chamber’s Business Summit, Bevin and Conway disagreed on the health exchange the state created through the Affordable Care Act as Conway said he supports the expansion and believes the exchange will pay for itself.

“What I am not going to do is what my opponent would do on day one of his administration, and that is with a stroke of a pen kick nearly a half a million people off of health insurance in this state,” Conway said. “I am committed to working with Gov. Beshear in the transition to show the people of Kentucky how we can segregate these increases revenues into the general fund and how this can, indeed, pay for itself going forward.”

Bevin, on the other hand, has been calling for a full repeal of the exchange (kynect) and disputed Conway’s assertion by saying the people currently receiving coverage through kynect would be transitioned to the federal exchange.

In the Business Summit panel, Bevin said he would lower the Medicaid eligibility back to the levels before the exchange was put in place, taking qualifications down to 100 percent of the poverty rate opposed to the current 138 percent. Bevin stated that the state cannot afford the expansion.

“We have people among us who truly have need. No question about it. But if we take from those, like those of you who pay for some of whom don’t need—able-bodied men and women who do not have the degree of need that we are now providing that we cannot afford—we are robbing from those who truly need it,” Bevin said.

Watch Bevin and Conway discuss health care at the Business Summit in the video below starting at the one hour mark:

Independent candidate Drew Curtis had not yet turned in the signatures required for him to appear on the ballot at the time of the Chamber’s Business Summit.

In a sit-down interview with the Chamber, Curtis said he is not in favor of dismantling kynect at this point, stating that the exchange seems to be working up to this point and it should be given more time to work and see how things play out.

However, Curtis is also concerned about the affordability of the expansion of Medicaid in the state. Curtis said he believes the state can pay for the 5 percent Kentucky will have to pay for the exchange which will come due in 2017. But the 10 percent that the state will have to pay by 2020 is more concerning to Curtis. And the independent candidate says if the state cannot afford that amount, we will have to come up with a new solution.

“Here’s a hypothetical outcome. Let’s say I have called this correctly and we hit a recession in 2018 and we stay in a recession in 2019. 2020, now we owe 10 percent. Probably are not going to be able to pay that. But we are going to know, in 2018, two years in advance. And in the meantime, there are other states that are experimenting with other versions of this. And so my recommendation is let’s just wait and let’s see what they come up with,” Curtis said.

As for whether or not Curtis believes the law is working, he said when it comes to the objective of getting people insured it has worked but he sees some issues as well.

“They were not trying to get everyone’s premiums down, which clearly didn’t happen. Even mine went up,” Curtis said (at 2:00). “So it did solve the problem it was meant to address but other new ones were created. And then the question is now that the other ones were created, did we get a better deal out of this or not?”

Watch the interview with Curtis below:

Read more about what Bevin and Conway had to say about health care in the Kentucky Chamber’s Primary Voter Guide here.

The Kentucky Chamber will be releasing a Voter’s Guide to the general election in the coming weeks here on

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Jacqueline Pitts
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