Whitesburg KY

Plans to pull plug on kynect are almost certain, but outcome not


In the wake of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive orders which included taking away a minimum wage increase for executive branch employees and stopping voting rights restorations for about 100,000, the governor’s office had reportedly stopped print advertisements for the state’s health exchange kynect, but evidence suggests there’s more to the story.

According to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Beshear Administration had requested an extension of the contract for Doe-Anderson who did advertising campaigns for kynect 28 days before the firm’s contract was set to expire, but the Finance and Administration Cabinet did not approve the extension.

A delivery order for the firm would have required an April 30, 2016 extension to Doe-Anderson’s contract.

Once the contract wasn’t renewed Bevin’s office was notified and Doe-Anderson was directed on December 18 to immediately pull all future ads that could be canceled and account for ads that couldn’t per contractual agreements.

Bevin has in no uncertain terms said he would dismantle the state’s health exchange kynect, but how he will proceed and how it will affect the state workers and contract workers employed via kynect remains unclear.

Disconnecting kynect

The Office of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange (kynect) currently has 34 full-time state employees and no part-time employees.

But the exchange also currently has 642 contractor workers as well.

Xerox operates the call center for kynect with 341 employees, and according to Jill Midkiff of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), the number of workers was ramped up to help with open enrollment, answer question and initiate corrections for insurance tax forms such as 1095 A and B.

The kynector contracts were awarded to Community Action of Kentucky, Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA) and the Kentucky Primary Care Association — a total of 200 employees for all three agencies.

Deloitte, a financial consulting firm has approximately 50 full-time employees who work for kynect.

The CHFS Office of Administrative and Technology Services has an additional 51 individuals on contract to work on kynect.

Before Bevin dismantles kynect, he has to give the federal government a one-year notice. If he plans to issue that request and dismantle the exchange by the end of 2016, he will have to give notice before January 1, 2016.

When The State Journal asked Jessica Ditto, Bevin’s spokeswoman, if he has given notice to the feds Ditto said, “The administration is taking a deliberate look at the logistics of the transition before any action is taken.”

But Ditto confirmed it would happen and was unclear how it will affect the 37 full-time state employees or more than 600 contract workers.

“Right now it would be premature to speculate what the personnel impact would be given that we have not firmed up the timeline of the transition,” Ditto said.

Deloitte has forecasted the costs for dismantling kynect will be at the very least $23 million of taxpayer money that Bevin would have to take out of the state’s general fund.

If Bevin decides to do that in the next two years, he and his budget director will include that in the budget they propose to the General Assembly in January.

And while kynect pays for itself through a 1 percent sur-charge on all policies purchased, once Bevin moves Kentuckians to the federal exchange state residents who purchase plans will have an increased 3.5 percent surcharge.

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