Sen. Damon Thayer offers Senate president chair to Gov. Bevin (photo by LRC Public Information)
No governor in recent Kentucky history has lost control of his administration in such a short time. Just four months into his administration, Governor Bevin has challenged the status quo of Frankfort politics and has lost the first battle of this war. Bevin is losing on the state budget fight.
Within the halls of Frankfort and in many schools, medical service providers, county and local government offices and in the courtrooms of Kentucky, can be heard new names for the sitting governor. These names include: Governor Pain, Governor Pain and Suffering, Governor Doom, Dr. Doom, and Little Trump,
Governor Bevin has cast himself as being against the best interests of Kentucky's college bound youth as he tries to take away health care for thousands of working poor Kentuckians. Governor Bevin is the face of real world Tea Party politics. Tea Party Republican Governor electoral victories in Illinois, Kansas, Wisconsin and Maine have shown just how far these Tea Parties will go to cut government.
The budget process and public policy administrations of these states has become public disasters for college bound youth, wrecking unions, retiring need state services to working poor, as small towns lose more public jobs and income.
Public education in these states have become targets to be taken apart and made pure in their thinking by putting the cost of education back to the local level. The Republican world view is that all government is bad and must be cut. In short, Tea Party Republicans are fighting a "Holy War" against the size, shape, and function of all state and local government.
Recently, several Democratic Kentucky Representatives: George Brown Jr., Tom Burch, Joni Jenkins, Mary Lou Marzian, Darryl Owens, shown at right, David Watkins, and Jim Wayne submitted their views about the actions of Governor Bevin to the editorial page of the Lexington Herald newspaper.
Below is part of their communication with that newspaper.
"Gov. Matt Bevin's outrageous lies and subterfuge perpetrated upon Kentuckians regarding Kynect, Benefind and expanded Medicaid, as detailed by reporter Deborah Yetter in The Courier-Journal, has pushed our outrage to the limit.
Gone are our assumptions that the Bevin administration is just incompetent and ignorant of Kentucky's complicated health care systems.
Instead we are now unequivocally convinced that Bevin's goal is to deprive hundreds of thousands of families, children and seniors of the excellent health care Kynect and expanded Medicaid are providing.
Despite incontrovertible evidence that Kentucky's expanded Medicaid and Kynect have created historic increases in Kentuckians' access to health care and produced unprecedented economic development in the health care industry, Bevin refuses to believe the proof of these successes and repeats his dark promise to get rid of these programs.
Look at the evolution of chicanery, deception and fabrication the Bevin administration has employed to date.
▪ Matt Bevin sailed into the governor's office with the promise to get rid of "Obamacare," the Republicans' deliberately misleading moniker for Kentucky's homegrown, nationally recognized and highly successful health-care programs.
▪ Bevin, in his first weeks in office, canceled the contract for all advertising for Kynect and eliminated the vitally important kynectors. This dramatically complicated and reduced access for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.
▪ Next, we Democrats on the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources fumed as Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Vicky Glisson spent weeks dodging our requests for information and fiscal evidence these programs weren't sustainable.
▪ When we reached the point of considering using subpoena power to extract the requested information, Glisson provided a PowerPoint which used questionable accounting methods to justify Bevin's promise to dismantle Kynect.
▪ To make matters worse, the new administration has even managed to bungle the rollout of another program, Benefind, which was engineered by former Gov. Steve Beshear solely for the purpose of complementing Kynect to help consumers find supplemental assistance such as food stamps.
▪ Inexplicably, the Bevin administration has attempted to convert many people off of Kynect and onto Benefind for health-care purposes.
▪ Since the rollout of Benefind two weeks ago, massive, potentially catastrophic results have occurred.
▪ Thousands of Kentuckians have received letters requesting information already provided, been denied services by their doctors because their policies are unknowingly canceled, and been refused lifesaving medications at pharmacies because their medical cards are invalid.
Why? Because the Bevin administration has jury-rigged the Benefind program to be something it is not, the online portal and rules engine for Medicaid in Kentucky.
Bevin, obviously realizing the disastrous consequences of his administration's deceit as his very voters are being terminated from their policies, has now ramped up his mendacity and harmful intent to mislead.
He has laid the blame for the dreadful Benefind rollout on Beshear and his IT team, stating in a video message to state employees (experiencing colossal call volume and frustration with the new program) that "we were told this was ready to go, it's a program that's been developed for years."
This message flies in the face of Republican Minority Leader Jeff Hoover's comments on the House floor last week as we passed House Bills 5 and 6 to preserve Kynect and expanded Medicaid. Hoover said "the shift to healthcare.gov will not cause a single person or policy to be canceled or a single person to lose coverage."
The ultimate, outrageous irony of Bevin's and the Republicans' scheme is that they want to take a state program and convert it to a federal program. This directly conflicts with their own party's often touted doctrine of Americans needing smaller government and less federal intrusion.
We now stand at a terrifying crossroads.
Are we going to allow this governor to rip away a health-care system that has provided coverage for 1.4 million people, created 14,500 health care jobs, decreased emergency room visits, made hospitals profitable, poured billions into local economies and fostered a healthier population?
Or will Kentuckians mobilize in solidarity against Bevin's deplorable mission to destroy Kynect and expanded Medicaid, a mission that is already causing much pain, anguish and suffering for so many?
In the days remaining in the General Assembly, the Senate can still act on HB 5 and HB 6 passed overwhelmingly by the Democratic-controlled House, to preserve the successful Kynect program that is saving human lives and investing in our state's economy.
We implore Kentuckians to immediately contact Bevin and their state senators to let them know how important the continued health care of our citizens is and demand they pass HB 5 and HB 6."
The authors are Democrats in the Kentucky House of Representatives and serve on the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources . Brown is from Lexington. David Watkins is from Henderson. Jenkins is from Shively. The others are from Louisville.
As the General Assembly of 2016 winds down and no budget has been reached in this the 59th day, House Leader Greg Stumbo, shown at left during budget negotiations (photo courtesy of LRC Information Office) told the press that it was up to the Governor to direct the Republican Senate to make a deal.
It can only be hoped that the Governor will step up and salvage an administration doomed in its fourth month of existence.