Will Newly Elected GOP Governor of Kentucky be able to Scrap State Obamacare Exchange?

Republican businessman Matt Blevin shocked the Democratic Party by defeating their shoe-in candidate Jack Conway in this month’s election for the governorship of Kentucky. The three largest cities in the state, Lexington, Louisville and Frankfort are Democratic strongholds which were supposed to keep a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, but enough conservatives rallied to vote Bevin into office.

One of Bevin’s campaign promises was that he planned to repeal the Obamacare state exchange along with the state’s expansion of Medicaid. Outgoing Democratic Governor Steve Beshear was an ardent Obamanite who blindly followed the will of his messiah and Jack Conway was no different. Conway said he would keep the state exchange and Medicaid expansion no matter how much it cost Kentucky taxpayers.

Virtually all of the Republican presidential candidates have vowed to do the same thing – repeal Obamacare and the Medicaid expansion. Bevin will have a year head start on them which means that all eyes will be watching to see if and how Bevin accomplishes his campaign promise.

The problem facing Bevin after he gets sworn into office on December 8 is that the state exchange has supposedly enrolled 521,000 Kentuckians into Medicaid or federally subsidized private healthcare plans. The question facing Bevin is how does he go about scrapping a program that has been used by nearly 10% of the state’s population.

Bevin has said that he wants to create a state-based version of the Medicaid expansion that would be more economically sustainable. In order for a state to discontinue the federal program, they are required to give the feds a 12 month notice and offer a transition plan to residents in the interim.

As for the state exchange program known as Kynect, Bevin said that such an exchange is nearly the same as the federal exchange. Using the federal exchange allows the feds to cover all cost overruns instead of the state trying to pay for them.

Another obstacle facing Bevin is that the state legislature is politically split. Republicans control the state Senate 23-14-1 but Democrats control the state House 54-46 and like most Democrats, they have no desire to play nicely with the new governor.

What happens this next year in Kentucky with a new GOP governor with no political experience could well help determine the success of the GOP presidential hopefuls come next November.