Will seek additional contractors to help expand health coverage to Kentuckians
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 19, 2013) —The Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Office of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange (KHBE) announced initial grant awards to agencies and organizations that will be known as kynectors to assist consumers who enroll for healthcare benefits through kynect, Kentucky’s Healthcare Connection. A second round of grants for certain geographic areas will be awarded later.
“We’re pleased to have these important partners on board with us to help Kentuckians enroll through the kynect marketplace,” said CHFS Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes. “As we approach Oct. 1, the start date for open enrollment, it is more important than ever that we be prepared to assist people across the state in navigating the new healthcare options that will be available to them, whether private insurance is the best option or they qualify for coverage under the Medicaid expansion.”
The request-for-proposal (RFP) asked for applications from for-profit and nonprofit entities and community and volunteer organizations with experience reaching Kentucky’s diverse populations to assist the commonwealth in reaching the goal of expanding health benefit coverage throughout Kentucky. These contractors will help individuals and small businesses in Kentucky determine their health plan needs and assist them in choosing plans to meet those needs.
Proposals were to target specific geographic areas, based on the state’s eight Medicaid regions. Competitive grant awards are being made to Community Action Kentucky (CAK) for regions 1, 2, 6 and 7 totaling approximately $3.4 million and to the Kentuckiana Regional Planning Development Agency (KIPDA) for region 3 for $937,982.
Funding also is being awarded to several agencies within the Cabinet that have established partnerships with local agencies, such as the Department for Public Health (DPH), the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (BHDID), the Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs (CCSHCN), the Family Youth Resources Services Centers (FRYSCs) and the Department of Aging and Independent Living (DAIL).
The Cabinet announced that it would issue a second RFP in the near future to seek contractors in regions 4, 5 and 8.
Duties of kynectors will include conducting public education activities to raise awareness of health plans available through kynect; distributing fair and impartial information about the available health plans; facilitating enrollment in health plans; and providing referrals to any applicable offices in the event of complaints and appeals. A kynector cannot receive any compensation or benefit directly or indirectly from any health insurance issuer or issuer of stop loss insurance in connection with the enrollment of any individual or employee in a plan.
In addition to kynector grants, other agencies and volunteers will be able to receive free training in becoming a certified application counselor. A form and instructions on how to participate with kynect as a certified application counselor will be available on the KHBE website no later than August 27.
“As we continue our outreach and education efforts leading up to open enrollment, we are pleased that Community Action and KIPDA will be joining the exchange and other Cabinet agencies in getting the word out about kynect,” said Carrie Banahan, executive director of KHBE. “In addition to these kynectors grants, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration recently awarded grants to 20 Health Centers to hire 52 additional workers who will assist with enrollment, which will further complement these efforts.”
The Affordable Care Act requires each state to create its own health benefit exchange or default to the federal government’s exchange system. Gov. Steve Beshear issued an executive order establishing the Office of the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange in July 2012.
Kentuckians can visit the exchange’s website at kynect.ky.gov or call 1-855-4kynect (459-6328) to learn more about the program, which is expected to help more than 640,000 uninsured Kentuckians get covered by private insurance plans or Medicaid and the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP).
Open enrollment for individuals seeking to purchase insurance through kynect begins Oct. 1, 2013 and runs through March 31, 2014, with coverage beginning as soon as Jan. 1, 2014. Open enrollment for small businesses also begins Oct. 1, 2013, but businesses with 50 or fewer employees will be able to choose to enroll employees in plans offered through kynect at any point after that date.
During open enrollment, Kentuckians will be able to compare and select insurance plans and find out if they qualify for programs like Medicaid and KCHIP by using the kynect website, a toll-free contact center, a mail-in application or in person. Individuals will find out if they qualify for payment assistance and special discounts on deductibles, copays and co-insurance. kynect will also be able to assist small businesses with enrolling their employees in health plans, and businesses with fewer than 25 employees may qualify for tax credits.