The balance in tobacco funds won’t be spent by Kentucky Access but will instead be handled as “a necessary government expense” as required by the Kentucky General Assembly, state Cabinet for Health and Family Services Office of Policy and Budget Executive Director Beth Jurek told the state legislative Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee last Wednesday.
“So those dollars will be there when the General Assembly comes back, and the General Assembly will appropriate those as it deems necessary,” Jurek said, adding that she is not sure about the exact amount remaining but believes it to be around $12 million.
Jurek told committee Co-Chair Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, that she would confirm the amount and report back to committee staff with that information.
Kentucky Access—a 13-year program of the Kentucky Health Care Improvement Authority—was funded by state tobacco settlement dollars, premiums, assessments on insurers, and some federal grant money. It provided coverage to over 18,000 individuals who “found it difficult to obtain coverage in the individual market,” according to the Kentucky Health Benefit and Health Information Exchange Executive Director Carrie Banahan.
The program became obsolete as of Jan. 1, 2014 when the ACA prohibited insurers from denying individual coverage based on their health care status, she said. The last day of coverage for Kentucky Access was Dec. 31, 2013, Banahan added, with many of those who had been served by Kentucky Access going on to obtain coverage through kynect, the state’s health benefit exchange.
Kentucky Access operations, including continued payouts to providers, are to end early next year, said Banahan. The program is not expected to receive any state tobacco appropriations in fiscal year 2015 which began on July 1, said Jurek.
Committee Co-chair Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville, asked about the status of those who were served by Kentucky Access. Based on the data shared by the Cabinet, Stone said there were 3,546 in the program when it ceased coverage last year and 2,584 have reportedly found coverage elsewhere, leaving around 1,000 individuals in the balance. Stone asked Banahan and Jurek where those 1,000 individuals ended up.
“What about those 1,000? Is that normal attrition—folks gone into Medicare—or are some of those folks still out there looking?” he asked.
Banahan said the state believes those individuals purchased insurance outside of kynect or qualified for Medicare. “Probably quite a few of those folks…purchased their insurance outside the exchange,” she said.
Fiscally-speaking, Jurek told the committee that Kentucky Access was well managed. The program served around 4,000 individuals on average at “any given time” over its 13 year lifespan, she said, and only used 6 percent of its budget on administration. Jurek said the program also “has always received clean audits” from the Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts.
Information provided by Brent Yonts
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