Covering Kentucky

Apr 2, 2014 5:19 AM

370,000 Kentuckians Sign Up For Health Insurance

FRANKFORT (AP) - More than 370,000 people have signed up for health insurance through the state's marketplace, a project that has come to define Democrat Steve Beshear's term as governor.

"We are thrilled with the level of interest and enrollment that we've seen for our first open enrollment period," Carrie Banahan, executive director of Kynect, the state's health insurance marketplace, said in a news release.

But as the governor and his staff celebrated the numbers on Tuesday - one in every 12 Kentuckians now has health insurance through Kynect - the program's future is less certain in the state legislature.

Monday, state lawmakers approved a two year, $20.3 billion state spending plan that forbids Beshear from using any state tax dollars to pay for Kentucky's expanded Medicaid program or the private insurance marketplace.

"You give the governor credit for what he's done. What the governor did was create a portal, a website. That's all. The product is still Obamacare," Republican Senate President Robert Stivers said.

Stivers said the Republican majority in the Senate still opposes the federal Affordable Care Act. He said it contributed to this year's contentious state budget debate, which did not conclude until 5:30 Sunday morning after an all-night closed-door meeting. Of particular concern, Stivers said, was the roughly $100 million the state will have to find in two years to begin paying for the state's share of the expanded Medicaid program.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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