Gov. Andy Beshear said Wednesday that he plans to relaunch the state Kynect health benefit exchange program in 2022.

“We have an opportunity to be better, to get healthier, to save money and ultimately to provide that basic human right that is health care,” he said. “It also allows us greater flexibility and autonomy than the federal exchange where we can extend the annual open enrollment period and offer special open enrollment periods.”

The program was enacted in 2013 by his father, then-Gov. Steve Beshear, but was removed in 2017 when then-Gov. Matt Bevin switched to the federal health care exchange.

During Andy Beshear’s daily briefing in Frankfort, he said a declaration of intent letter regarding the change was sent Tuesday to Randy Pate, deputy administrator of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

Under the federal exchange in 2018, Beshear said Kentuckians paid $9.8 million in user fees. With the state exchange, Beshear projects $2.8 million to $3.8 million in savings during the first year and $7.8 million to $8.8 million thereafter.

He aims to implement the program by Jan. 1, 2022, and estimates the system will cost $5 million. Ongoing operations will run between $1 million and $2 million.

This is part of a “larger set of announcements” that Beshear said he anticipates will come in August and “potentially” September.

Also during the news conference, state Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander announced that Marta Miranda-Straub was named commissioner of the Department for Community Based Services.

Beshear also said the state is distributing personal protective equipment to all 120 counties for both voters and poll workers at the June 23 primary election.

He also discussed the in-person unemployment insurance services that have been taking place in Frankfort since Tuesday, which is the same day a protest was planned over unresolved claims. Beshear said the services will also be available in Frankfort on Thursday and Friday.

Asked why the in-person services weren’t put in place earlier, Beshear said “it’s not that it took a rally – it’s that we’ve been slowly coming back to in-person services.”

The Bevin administration reduced the number of unemployment insurance offices statewide, Beshear said. In addition, the pandemic closed down a “significant” number of government services, which he is “committed” to reopening.

Earlier this week, Beshear mentioned potentially bringing in “outside help.” He said Wednesday that the state is going to reach out to groups “helping other states” to learn more about their capabilities.

On Monday, Beshear said a record-breaking 892,000 claims had been filed over the last three months and more than 50,000 have still not been processed. That same day, State Treasurer Allison Ball said at least 45 percent of the state’s workforce is currently unemployed.

Coronavirus

Beshear announced 12,995 total coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 349 of which are probable, and 170 are newly confirmed.

Six newly confirmed virus-related deaths bring the state total to 518. At least 3,444 people have recovered and 416 are hospitalized, 61 of which are in intensive care. At least 329,710 people have been tested statewide, which is about 7.4 percent of the state’s 4.4 million population.

Meanwhile, Barren River District Health Department officials announced 1,984 total cases Wednesday, including 1,288 in Warren, 243 in Butler, 205 in Logan, 77 in Edmonson, 64 in Barren, 62 in Simpson, 37 in Hart and eight in Metcalfe. Of those, 1,355 people have reportedly recovered.

An additional virus-related death in Logan County brings the area total to 51, including 13 in Butler, 11 in Edmonson, 10 in both Warren and Logan, three in Simpson and two in both Barren and Metcalfe.

There are at least 138 total coronavirus cases in Allen County, according to the Allen County Health Department, which is not part of the Barren River district.

Meanwhile, the Barren River Area Development District’s COVID-19 Dashboard, which uses state health department data, showed 2,149 total cases, including 1,299 in Warren, 246 in Butler, 201 in Logan, 137 in Allen, 69 in Edmonson, 67 in Barren, 60 in Simpson, 31 in both Monroe and Hart, and eight in Metcalfe.

Some daily totals may shift because of data being reported incorrectly. Additionally, numbers often differ between the state and local sources because of different reporting methods.

– Follow multimedia journalist Emily Zantow on Twitter @EmilyZantowNews or visit bgdailynews.com.

– Follow Multimedia Journalist Emily Zantow on Twitter @EmilyZantowNews or visit bgdailynews.com.

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