Kentucky Governor Seeks to Dismantle Award-Winning HIX Portal

The controversial decision is estimated to cost the state a minimum of $23 million.

by / January 13, 2016

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announced plans late last month to shut down the state's Affordable Care Act (ACA) portal, Kynect. Bevin's office called the portal a "redundancy" because HealthCare.gov already offers the same services. The shutdown will not interrupt health coverage for anyone, Bevin's office said, but critics are questioning why one of the nation's most successful portals should be shut down when some estimates place the shutdown cost at $23 million.

Outside of project costs, impacts on citizens are expected to be minimal. The portal is now funded by a 1 percent assessment on all insurance premiums. A transition to the federal portal would eliminate that fee and instead impose on Kentuckians a 3.5 percent assessment.

Amid many ACA snags and failures, Kynect was considered one of the nation's success stories, both technically and in number of citizens reached. In May of 2015, following that year's open enrollment period, 158,685 individuals had enrolled in health-care coverage through Kynect for 2015, according to a press release from then-Gov. Steve Beshear. Kynect's two-year lifespan also saw a reduction in Kentucky's uninsured rate from 20.4 percent to 9 percent, according to a Gallup Poll.

"We should be building on things like Kynect that are working so we can create a stronger Kentucky, not taking them apart," Jason Bailey, executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, told NPR.

The portal's shutdown runs parallel to the governor's plan to restructure Kentucky's Medicaid program after the model used by Indiana that provides health insurance to residents whose household income is up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level and offers fewer benefits to newly eligible recipients and those who don't pay Medicaid premiums.

In 2014, Government Technology honored Kentucky for its success with Kynect.