FRANKFORT, Ky. — In order to combat inequality and inequity in healthcare, Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday he wants transition to a state-based healthcare exchange beginning Jan. 1, 2022.
Beshear says the program would be similar to Kynect, which launched in 2013 and enrolled 500,000 newly eligible people in Medicaid coverage and Qualified Health Plans. Gov. Matt Bevin discontinued the program in 2017.
Beshear said Kentuckians would see reduced premium costs through the health exchange with greater flexibility and autonomy than the federal exchange, which had a 3% user fee that cost Kentuckians roughly $9.8 million per year.
Beshear sent a letter of intent to start work on this program to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Wednesday. Launching the state exchange will incur a one-time cost of $5 million for the system, with annual operating costs estimated between $1-2 million.
PPE for poll workers
Shortly before the briefing, his administration announced the state will supply masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and face shields to poll workers in all 120 counties ahead of the June 23 primary election.
“I encourage every Kentuckian to vote, which is their duty as an American, but we must take every precaution available to protect voters and poll workers exercising that fundamental right,” Beshear said in a news release. “We continue to take action to allow people to safely exercise their right to vote on Tuesday, including ensuring our poll workers have this protective gear.”
Beshear said 5,000 masks, 4,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 5,800 face shields and 20,000 gloves would be distributed.
The deadline to apply for a mail-in absentee ballot was June 15. For more information about voting in Kentucky, click here.
Pools can reopen June 29
On Tuesday, Beshear's administration released guidelines for safely reopening public pools and hosting gatherings of up to 50 people starting June 29.
Among the requirements for pool centers are social distancing and limited pool capacity. Any time their heads are above water, swimmers must maintain a distance of six feet from people who aren't from the same household. Seating at swimming facilities will also be spaced six feet apart, and pools are asked to encourage guests to bring their own seats whenever possible.
Many of the guidelines to host large events already apply to groups of 10 people or fewer, which have been allowed to resume in the commonwealth. Among the new guidelines are continuing to socially distance, wearing cloth masks, not sharing food or drinks and hosting events outside whenever possible.
Ky. COVID-19 numbers
Kentucky reports 518 total coronavirus-related deaths out of 12,995 virus cases so far. More than 3,440 people have recovered from the virus, and the state has tested 329,710 people so far.
NKY Health reported that 1,464 people in Boone, Campbell, Kenton and Grant counties have tested positive for coronavirus since March and 76 people have died of the virus as of Monday.
In long term care facilities, 1,552 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, and 329 residents have died. In those facilities, 747 staff have contracted COVID-19 and three have died as of Monday.
To find one of the 189 free coronavirus testing locations in Kentucky, click here.
Reopening Ky. classrooms
On Monday, Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman said officials are currently working on guidelines to safely reopen schools in Kentucky after classrooms closed this spring due to coronavirus concerns.
Coleman said the state's "Education Continuation" task force, formed three months ago by parents, teachers, superintendents, school board members, coaches and other public education specialists, are currently creating new guidelines to be “Healthy at School.”
The new guidelines will address social distancing, wearing masks, hand sanitizing and cleaning common areas, temperature checks and contact tracing, Coleman said.
The task force would also work with each Kentucky community’s local school boards and health departments to find the best practices for bringing students back into classroom learning in the fall. Coleman said more specific guidelines and plans would be released in the coming weeks.
Officials did not give a date when schools could reopen classrooms Monday. Beshear said as children eventually begin in-person instruction again, parents should be prepared for potential intermittent school closures due to the virus.
What's reopening in Kentucky?
Childcare centers reopened Monday, and low-touch, outdoor youth sports resumed as well.
Last week, camping was allowed to resume with social distancing and houses of worship were allowed to begin hosting congregants at 50% capacity.
Historical horse racing facilities reopened last week with social distancing and sanitation precautions. In-home childcare was also allowed to resume along with horse shows, museums, outdoor attractions, libraries, aquariums and distilleries.
Watch a replay of the briefing in the player below: