Politics

Gubernatorial candidates Jack Conway and Matt Bevin again clashed over the expansion of the state’s Medicaid system and state-run health exchange, Kynect, at a debate Tuesday hosted by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Bevin, the Republican nominee, has pushed for dismantling Kynect and moving recipients onto the federal health exchange.

“We have a governor who has uncorked a disastrous package of cost on us that we’re going to have to deal with,” Bevin said during the debate.

Bevin has argued for the elimination of the state’s expansion of Medicaid, which makes eligible all Kentuckians with incomes at or below 138 percent of the poverty line, and scaling it back to pre-expansion levels.

He says that the state is “spending money that’s not real” by taking federal subsidies for expanding Medicaid; some of the subsidies will be phased out over the coming years.

“It’s ultimately coming down on the heads of you and your employees and your children and your grandchildren. So let us not chase that fake money; this is like getting excited by a tax refund,” Bevin said.

Conway, a Democrat, said if elected he will continue the expansion of Medicaid and state-run exchange, saying Kentuckians get better rates through Kynect than on the federal exchange.

“It’s a cheaper, more efficient way to allow people to purchase health insurance,” Conway said.

“When you actually get more compensated care in an emergency room, the entire health care sector does better, when you get more healthcare workers employed, that is money into the economy.”

Conway and Bevin also exchanged a few barbs during the debate—Bevin pointed out that Conway graduated from Kentucky basketball rival Duke University. Conway noted that Bevin was not born in Kentucky several times.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.