Matt Bevin

J. Tyler Franklin

The former chairman of the beleaguered Kentucky Retirement Systems is heading to court to challenge his removal by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Thomas Elliott has sued Bevin for removing him as chairman of the Kentucky  Retirement Systems board of trustees. Bevin's attorneys say he has the authority to remove Elliott. But Elliott says his term is set by state law and cannot be altered by the governor. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m.

The lawsuit is one of several challenging Bevin's reorganization of state boards and commissions. Labor unions are challenging the makeup of the Workers Compensation Nominating Commission and Attorney General Andy Beshear is challenging Bevin's decision to replace the University of Louisville board of trustees.

The Kentucky Retirement System has unfunded liabilities of more than $19 billion.

Rob Canning

Gov. Matt Bevin is taking requests to remove state regulations, which he says prevent businesses from relocating to Kentucky.

Bevin’s office has set up a website, RedTapeReduction.com where people can “report a reg” and describe how the policy is “hurting you/your business.”

In a video announcing the initiative, Bevin said removing regulations will make Kentucky more attractive to businesses looking to relocate.

“If they’re going to leave somewhere else we want them to exit to Kentucky. One of the things that would prevent that from happening is the amount of regulation,” he said, standing next to a sign that says “Exit To Kentucky.”

Bevin estimated that there are 4,500 regulations in Kentucky.

Rob Canning

The federal government has given its most forceful statement yet in response to Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal to apply for a waiver to change Kentucky’s Medicaid system.

Bevin’s plan, which requires federal approval, would make most Medicaid recipients pay monthly premiums, eliminate vision and dental coverage and institute a credit program whereby individuals could get better coverage by volunteering or applying for a job.

At a forum hosted by the Health Enterprises Network on Thursday, Bevin’s deputy chief of staff Adam Meier said that the administration had little doubt the federal government would accept the plan.

“We’re pretty confident they’ll approve our waiver or something pretty close to it,” Meier said, according to the Courier-Journal.

In response, Ben Wakana, press secretary for the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, said in an email that during talks with Bevin’s administration, the department has “repeatedly been clear” about “principles of access to coverage and affordability of care.”

Ryland Barton

Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo is suing Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, saying the governor didn’t properly deliver vetoes to the Secretary of State at the end of this year’s legislative session.

At stake in the lawsuit is Bevin’s line-item vetoes to the state budget, which could be reversed if Stumbo is successful.

Bevin’s office says the vetoes were delivered to House Clerk Jean Burgin’s office, who Bevin’s attorney says promised to properly deliver the documents to the Secretary of State’s office, as required by law.

The documents never wound up in the Secretary of State’s office, though copies of them were delivered — a move that Bevin’s office says was necessary because Burgin’s office was locked at the end of the day on April 27, the last day vetoes could be filed.

Steve Pitt, Bevin’s general counsel, accused Stumbo of obstructing the proper delivery of the vetoes, saying he had “unclean hands.”

Wikimedia Commons

If Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal to change the state’s Medicaid system is approved, about 86,000 fewer people will be enrolled in the program by July 2021, according to his administration. That will save the state money, as he’s said, but it’s also raising concerns about lost coverage.

The plan would require most beneficiaries to pay premiums ranging between $1 and $15 per month and lock out those who don’t pay. Recipients would be able to get benefits again once they take a health literacy class and pay back the amount they owe.

During an interview on WLSK in Lebanon Tuesday morning, Bevin said the proposed program would give recipients “dignity.”

“There’s no dignity involved in being a ward of the state, in being completely dependent on the government and on your fellow neighbors, and have no expectation of you or any opportunity to give back,” Bevin said. “I think this is a win-win.”

Flickr/Creative Commons/Leicester Royal Infirmary

A public hearing on Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program will be held Tuesday, June 28 in Bowling Green.

The leader of an Owensboro-based community development group sees positives and negatives in  Bevin’s proposal. 

Jiten Shah is executive director of Green River Area Development District and is on the board of Kentucky Voices for Health.

He’s concerned about Bevin’s plan to have Medicaid recipients pay a monthly premium.

“I do have some concerns, you know especially, the recipients would have to have a monthly premium. Since the Medicaid expansion is serving the low income population for the insurance, and many of them may not be able to afford monthly payments of $1 all the way up to $15 a month.”

Shah said even relatively small payments could be difficult for many low-income people already struggling to make ends meet.

The proposed changes would add the premium, but do away with the co-pay that Medicaid recipients are charged when they go for a medical appointment. 

Kentucky Office of the Courts

The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide whether Republican Gov. Matt Bevin can cut the budgets of state colleges and universities.

The court has agreed to hear the case, bypassing the state Court of Appeals, and set a hearing date for Aug. 18.

Bevin reduced allotments to state colleges and universities by nearly $18 million without the approval of the state legislature. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him, saying Bevin overstepped his authority. A state judge sided with Bevin last month.

Beshear appealed that decision. Normally the case would first go to the state Court of Appeals. But Beshear asked the Supreme Court to hear the case and skip the appeals court process. Bevin opposed Beshear's request, saying the case was not of "great and immediate public importance."

The court granted Beshear's request Monday.

Ryland Barton

The latest legal challenge against Gov. Matt Bevin had its first hearing Thursday — Attorney General Andy Beshear is attempting to join a lawsuit contesting Bevin’s reorganization of the Kentucky Retirement Systems board, which manages retirement funds for state workers.

Beshear is also trying to challenge Bevin’s overhaul of the University of Louisville board of trustees in the same move, arguing that both reorganizations should be tried at the same time.

During the hearing, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shephard voiced appreciation of the governor’s desire to fix problems, but cautioned against overstepping legal bounds.

“It’s incumbent on the governor to take action, to do something about, to take leadership on,” Shephard said. “But it’s also important that the methods that are used are in compliance with the statutes and with the Constitution.

J. Tyler Franklin

Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing Gov. Matt Bevin for abolishing and then reinstating the boards of trustees of both the University of Louisville and Kentucky Retirement Systems, the state agency that manages the pensions of most state employees.

Bevin appointed new members and changed the number of seats on each panel. In both cases, Bevin said the moves were made to achieve a “fresh start.”

Bevin has reorganized several boards in recent months, including the Kentucky Horse Park Commission, Kentucky Racing Commission and the Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission.

A group of labor unions and injured workers have sued Bevin for his overhaul of the workers’ compensation board, which nominates administrative law judges to oversee workers’ compensation cases.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

At a news conference Wednesday morning in Frankfort, Gov. Matt Bevin announced his much-anticipated plan to remake the state’s expanded Medicaid system.

Under the plan, which would require federal approval, Kentuckians who earn between 34 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty line would be required to pay fixed premiums for the insurance. The premiums will range from $1 to $15 for “able-bodied adults,” according to Mark Birdwhistell, University of Kentucky HealthCare’s vice president for administration and external affairs who is heading up the state’s waiver process

Bevin said requiring users to pay premiums would give them “dignity and respect.”

Bevin also said the changes would save the state $2.2 billion.

The program will be called Kentucky H.E.A.L.T.H., which stands for “Helping to Engage and Achieve Long-Term Health.”

Bevin Claims 'Absolute Authority' to Disband State Boards

Jun 21, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky's governor says he has "absolute authority" to disband any of the states' nearly 400 boards and commissions.

Tuesday’s comments by Republican Matt Bevin come as the state's Democratic attorney general hints at possible legal action.

Bevin last week abolished the board of trustees at the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Retirement Systems, only to recreate them with some new members.

Attorney General Andy Beshear has called Bevin's actions "unprecedented."

He has scheduled a news conference Wednesday to discuss Bevin's decisions, potentially announcing a lawsuit against the state's highest elected officer.

Beshear and Bevin are already in court, fighting over whether Bevin has the authority to cut $18 million from college and university budgets that were approved by the state legislature.

Gov. Bevin Forms Criminal Justice Task Force

Jun 21, 2016
Creative Commons

Gov. Matt Bevin says he wants Kentucky to “lead the way” on criminal justice reform and has appointed a council tasked with producing legislative ideas for next year’s General Assembly.

The 23-member committee includes state officials, legislators and advocates from around the state.

Bevin says the state’s laws need to be changed to save money and allow those convicted of crimes to more effectively rejoin society.

“…Because to not do so comes at a burden and a cost economically, emotionally, behaviorally, criminally that we frankly cannot afford to bear,” Bevin said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Though Bevin and other speakers didn’t have any specific proposals for legislation, several broad concepts were mentioned including sentencing reform, finding alternatives to incarceration and devoting more resources to combat drug addiction.

J. Tyler Franklin

Only six months into his first term in office, Gov. Matt Bevin is involved in an array of lawsuits, some of which may have ramifications long beyond his administration.

Executive orders made by Bevin have raised legal questions about the limits of the executive branch’s power in the state — power that has been flexed more by some governors than others.

Former Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson said Bevin is set on reestablishing the “preeminence” of the governor’s office.

“He seems to be trying to assert power in a way that the last couple governors didn’t,” said Grayson, now CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

That assertion of executive power has drawn plenty of critics, some of whom are suing the administration.

J. Tyler Franklin

A major shakeup in leadership is taking place at the University of Louisville.

Governor Matt Bevin today announced that University of Louisville President James Ramsey is stepping down and the school’s Board of Trustees is being reorganized.

Bevin said the school needs a change in oversight and a “fresh start.”

Ramsey has led U of L since 2002.

He’s come under increasing criticism as the school has faced several high-profile scandals, including an FBI investigation into its top health care executive, and an NCAA investigation into allegations that men’s basketball players and recruits were provided with prostitutes.

The Council on Postsecondary Education will nominate new trustees for Bevin to consider for appointment.

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Kentucky’s Medicaid commissioner says the state’s plan to scale back the expanded Medicaid system will not require beneficiaries to pay premiums, according to an Associated Press report.

In the report, Commissioner Stephen Miller goes on to say that Medicaid recipients could receive fewer benefits, including reduced vision and dental services.

Late last year, Gov. Matt Bevin announced that he would by 2017 “transform” the state’s expanded Medicaid system into one where recipients have “skin in the game” by paying for benefits.

Doug Hogan, communications director for Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said that the state couldn’t comment on the proposed changes or negotiations with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“Everything is on the table and no decisions have been finalized. We are continuing to engage stakeholders and CMS in good faith,” Hogan said.

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