Affordable Care Act-related legislation passes on party lines

The House Health and Welfare Committee passed out two highly political bills Thursday dealing with the Affordable Care Act that if passes the House will likely die in the Senate.

The House committee heard House Bill 5, which calls for Kentucky to continue to operate a state-based healthcare exchange and provide the current same functions as Kynect and House Bill 6, which continues the current expansion of the Medicaid program. Sponsor Rep. Daryl Owens and others testified that former Governor Steve Beshear’s Executive Orders implementing Medicaid Expansion and establishing Kynect have been positive for Kentucky and have served as a national model.

During the debate, Republicans on the committee voiced their opposition to the bills, but stated that they appreciated that the bills were introduced, as the legislature has never had an opportunity to vote on these critical issues because they were done by Executive Order.

Opponents stated that Governor Bevin has established Benefind, a replacement for Medicaid recipients using Kynect, which is a portal that is a one-stop for anyone that may qualify for government assistance.

Supporters of the legislation on the committee stated that Kynect was easily accessible and had heard there have already been problems with Benefind.

After a lengthy debate and discussion on House Bill 5, the committee passed the bill along party lines.

No testimony was given for House Bill 6 and passed out along the same lines.

Both bills now move to the House floor.

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