Legislative committee delays vote on insurance exchange; move is symbolic

By Kentucky Health News

Kentucky legislators have made another symbolic move against creating a health insurance exchange, with the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare delaying a vote on its creation until next month’s meeting. The exchange is one of the cornerstones of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and would allow individuals earning up to to 133 percent of the federal poverty level to buy health insurance through a state-run marketplace.

Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, made the motion to table the vote on the order Wednesday, saying she does not have enough information about the cost of the exchange and how it will operate. “All we have is the executive order” from Gov. Steve Beshear creating the exchange, Wuchner said. The exchange must be in operation by Jan. 1, 2014. The first year, it will be paid for by the federal government. The second year, it will cost $67 million, but the state will use grant money to pay that sum, reports Beth Musgrave for the Lexington Herald-Leader. In the long term, fees from insurance companies are supposed to pay the costs.

If the committee opts to reject the order, Beshear can override it, Musgrave reports. It’s the second time the legislative has acted against the creation of an exchange. Earlier this summer the Capital Projects and Bond Oversight Committee voted along party lines against a lease that would have housed employees of the exchange. Finance Secretary Lori Flanery has the power to overturn the vote and rent the space.

Kentucky Health News is a service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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