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NBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript: Kentucky's Kynect


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I sat down with the governor of Kentucky today, Steve Beshear. Governor Beshear has been a big part of ObamaCare success in the state. As soon as the law was passed, he saw the vision. They got to work on theinfrastructure for the exchange. They`re up and running and it`s working.

He`s cut through all the negative misinformation and all the lies that are been out there about ObamaCare and clearly explained to us today why this law is good, it`s working, and it`s great for the country as a whole.


SCHULTZ: Congratulations.

BESHEAR: Thank you very much. Thanks for coming to Kentucky.

SCHULTZ: It`s good to be here. Why is it so smooth in Kentucky?

BESHEAR: Well our folks are the real heroes here, Ed the people that work in this building that work all over state educating Kentuckians about what the Affordable Care Act is all about.

Our folks got in early and worked with the vendors on the website and as you know, we had very few problems with it and it`s cranking at people that are joining up everyday at a rate of about a thousand a day. We`re now over 32,000 people who have signed up for affordable health care.

SCHULTZ: You got on the ground floor, I mean, you wanted to do this, correct?

BESHEAR: I wanted to do this but it was a two-part decision, you know. Number one, is it the right thing to do? Well, of course, it is, you know, expanding Medicaid is the right thing to do, setting up our own exchange and not having kind of a cookie cutter approach that you would have to have at the federal level was the right thing to do.

But particularly, on expanding Medicaid, I also have to be fiscally responsible and I had to find out if we could afford to do this. And so I asked outside experts. I brought in some actuarial folks and they took a good hard look at this and they came back and sat down and said, "Governor, you can afford not to do this."

SCHULTZ: What has it done for Kentucky from what you have seen?

BESHEAR: First of all, you can see an eagerness out there for affordable health coverage. You know, we`ve got horrible health statistics. We`ve had horrible health statistics for generations. And I knew that we had to have some kind of transformational tool to really change the game here.

And the Affordable Care Act gave me that and so now, for the first time in history, every single Kentuckian is going to have access to affordable health care we`re going to create over the next eight years.

According to the economic experts, about 17,000 new jobs, as a part of this effort, there`s going to be about $15 billion of new money infused into Kentucky`s economy.

So this is a win-win situation.

SCHULTZ: What do you think about other states that have rejected this? What are -- I mean, you must be -- you see what it does for your state, your thoughts on other states that just haven`t gone down this road?

BESHEAR: Unfortunately, I think a lot of them are making political decisions as opposed to decisions in the best interest of their people. And I would predict to you that over the next two or three years, most to those states will end up doing exactly what we`re doing because their people are going to see what Kentuckians are getting, what people in other states that are doing this are getting affordable health coverage, and they`re going to demand that their political leaders do just exactly what we`re doing.

SCHULTZ: Now, you have done this with basically three contractors, correct? And this hasn`t been a huge expansion of Kentucky government.

BESHEAR: Oh, not at all. I mean, we brought private enterprise in to do this with us. We have our own people that already work in the Medicaid system and public health and those kind of folks and we sail with these private vendors, designed a system, you know, we kept it simple, straightforward. We didn`t put a lot of bells and whistles on it.

We made it to where folks could go on and browse and shop and find out exactly whether they`re qualified for Medicaid or if they don`t, what are the health plans, what do they look like, do I qualify for a premium subsidy. And then once they had all of that, then they can create an account and go and do the job that it`s set up to do.

SCHULTZ: What reaction are you getting from consumer, from Kentuckians? Do they care about the politics or they just hear to get something that they don`t have or have never had an option to get?

BESHEAR: You know, we`ve got 640,000 people who don`t have health care coverage and just the number speak to themselves. Over the first the month, we`ve had almost 400,000 people swarming all over this website to get this information, 70,000, 80,000 people on that toll free hotline calling about the information. That doesn`t even include the folks that are going in and out in our communities and talking with the connectors in the public health departments and insurance agents that we have sort of had to work with them. So people want this.

This is the first time in their lives, Ed where most of them will be able to actually have health care coverage. You know, these folks are not a group of aliens from some distant planet, they`re our friends and neighbors, they`re folks that we go to church with, we shop and go to the grocery with, we seat in the bleachers on Friday night and we will all watch our kids play football and baseball and soccer, some of them are even members of our family and these people get up every morning and work hard to improve the quality of life for their people and they just hope and pray that they don`t get sick because they know that they are one bad diagnosis away from bankruptcy under the current system.

SCHULTZ: I notice on your map 120 counties in Kentucky .


SCHULTZ: . and you have visited everyone of them and you`ve had seminars in every county. On the national level, ObamaCare has had some communication issues, make the connection there, what -- how do you view that?

BESHEAR: Obviously, we`ve got a much smaller population to deal with and we`ve got one set of insurance laws. The federal exchange ended up having to deal with I think 36 different sets of insurance laws and of course 40 to 50 million people. Now, having said that, I think if they went back to do it over again which they`re doing now, you know, they`re going to -- they`ll make it much simpler.

I think the biggest issue that they ended up messing up on was requiring everybody to create an account before they could go browse and actually find out the information. And that created a really lag jam in the system. So, they`ll get the sticks. There is no question in my mind that they`ll have it fixed and over the course of the next year too, you`re going to have a very big success for affordable health coverage in this whole country.

SCHULTZ: You have been a believer in this delivery system since the day the law passed and then the Supreme Court ruling when that came out, that`s what I understand your state really kicked into the high gear, took advantage of all the federal grants to start implementing these things.

There are two higher profile politicians from the state, Mitch McConnell, Republican leader on the Senate, Rand Paul who wants to be president. They`re totally opposed to what you`re doing. What do you say to them?

BESHEAR: Well, they`ve been a part of all the other critics helping to weave that web of misinformation out there for months about the Affordable Care Act. And finally, now that it`s active, now that people can find out for themselves, that`s what Kentuckians are doing.

You know, they`ve heard all of this stuff and they don`t know what to think. They`re confused like everybody else but they`re taking the opportunity to go find out for themselves. And when they do, they like what they find. You know, I`m telling everybody in Kentucky, you don`t have to like the President, you don`t have to like me because this isn`t about the President and about me, it`s about you. It`s about their families, about their children.

So do me a favor, you know, go and check and you`re going to like what you find.

SCHULTZ: So, if that`s the case, why are the Republicans on the states are against it?

BESHEAR: Again, I think it`s politics, Ed and short-sided because I know our folks have been saying Kentuckians don`t want this. Well, the numbers speak otherwise, 400,000 I`ve been sure about this and they want it, they`re eager about it. So, everybody knows that that`s just incorrect and they`re going to find out, I believe. But by about this time, next year, that people are going to look back and say "Wait a minute, this is OK. I`ve got affordable health coverage. You misled me."

SCHULTZ: You think this will play into the midterms?

BESHEAR: I think it will play into the midterms, I honestly think that the biggest issue in the midterms is going to be the dysfunction of Congress. I`ll tell you, people here in Kentucky are disgusted when they look at Washington D.C. and see the lack of anything going on. They are so hungry to just have people, Republicans or Democrats who will sit down with each other and reach across the isle and actually talk to each other instead of pass each other and get this country moving again.

SCHULTZ: Well, this is the dynamic that`s playing out. The Republicans have record number filibusters in the Senate obstructing a lot of what President Obama wants to do. You`ve implemented what President Obama wants to do, and there`s positive results.

I mean this is rather unusual political dynamic isn`t it?

BESHEAR: It is, but I know that when the national media look at -- looks at Kentucky they see the face of our congressional delegation. Well Kentucky is a lot different than the face of our congressional delegation.

We`re a very progressive state. We are the leading in charge in education reform. We are the first state to adopt the Common Core Standards. We`re the second state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards. We just raised our gap at age from 16 to 18.

You know, we are aggressive in moving forward in education. Economic development last year we were the -- we have the second highest job growth rate of any state in the country. And our exports are setting records right now. So, lots of good things going on in Kentucky.

SCHULTZ: What do you say to other governors that have denied their, you know, residence and opportunity to do this? I mean -- I just find it amazing that a state in the middle of the country can get it right and be so aggressive in doing it right. And I have a lot of people calling your office and saying, "Governor Beshear how do you do that?"

BESHEAR: I`d say to them, you know, take a deep breath and take another look at this, because number one we all know it`s the right thing to do from a health care standpoint.

If there is a way that you can insure everyone of your people or get them affordable health coverage obviously that`s morally the right thing to do. It`s also the right economically to do just to get some people to take a look at what this will do for your state, from a job creation standpoint, from money being infused into your economy. This is a win-win situation for everybody.

SCHULTZ: Do -- Are you seeing consumers getting better rates?

BESHEAR: I think most consumers will get better rates obviously 640,000 of them have never had any rates at all, because they`ve been unable to get insurance.

SCHULTZ: And that`s the key access, right?

BESHEAR: That is the key access. And we`re going to have a number of people who were qualified for the extended Medicaid program and have a number of people who would be able for the first time to buy qualified health plans.

The coverage is going to be so much better than anybody ever had before in terms of the behavioral health for instance and all the immunizations and the screenings and the prevention and wellness. You know, that`s the big key to this in the long run is zeroing in on keeping people out of emergency rooms and out of inpatient care, and teaching them how to take care of themselves, how to manage their diabetes, how to manage their heart condition, so that they can have healthy lives.

SCHULTZ: You just use the word quality, the Affordable Health Care Act has standard, your thoughts on that. And this is why as people are getting notices saying that their insurance is being canceled, the junk insurance industry is being cleaned up. Address that.

BESHEAR: Folks aren`t getting their insurance canceled. They`re getting their insurance changed into something that is so much better than what they`ve had before.

Yes, there are some essential benefits that are required in the future for every health plan sold in the country not just the one sold on the health care exchanges and look what people for the first time are going to get no preexisting condition.

I mean, I don`t care what you have or what you`ve got, you will be able to get affordable health insurance. No max on lifetime benefit. You get some catastrophic illness. You`re not going get thrown off your plan for running over. You`re going to have child care for the first time, dental and vision care. You`re going to have behavioral health including drug treatment and that`s going to be so important for so many in this country.

SCHULTZ: Can you say with confidence and conviction that this will be good for small businesses in Kentucky?

BESHEAR: I can say with all confidence that this is going to be great for small businesses in Kentucky as matter of fact we have almost 400 small businesses right now working to develop health plans in our exchange.

So, they`re finding out just like everybody else is, that all this misinformation let`s cut through that, let`s get to the chase.

You know, this can work. This is going to work. And Kentucky is going to be so much better for it.

SCHULTZ: Governor thanks for your time.

BESHEAR: Thank you Ed.

SCHULTZ: Appreciate it sir, great.


SCHULTZ: Well, a long for an interview because there`s a lot to the story. One thing is for sure there`s a heck of a lot more in Kentucky than just towards racing and damn good college basketball, you know what I mean?

But this room right here, notice how no one is throwing anything at one another. That computers aren`t breaking down. There`s no screening going on. Nobody is pulling anybody`s hair out. The demeanor of this room is highly professional. These people are very motivated. They know that they are helping fellow Kentuckians.

And oh by the way, their call center is in Kentucky. It`s Kentucky jobs. It can be done.

Coming up, we`ll go inside this nerve center at Kinect.


SCHULTZ: What`s the key to having this so organized? On the ground floor, what did you do?


SCHULTZ: And later, our Ed Team was on the ground this weekend in the state of Virginia. We`ll hear from both sides going in to tomorrow`s governor`s race. You`re not going to see this anywhere else. Another Ed Show explosive. Stay with us, we`ll be right back.



SCHULTZ: This kind of make me feel pretty good that you`re, you know, you`re in the middle of something, you know, revolutionary in America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right. It feels wonderful. Yes, it feels like we`re doing something that really matters.


SCHULTZ: They are. Welcome to the Ed Show. After my interview with Governor Beshear, he gave me a tour of the Kinect Processing Center. I found highly professional, highly motivated folks say well-oiled machine hard working, work ethic Kentuckians getting after it. And of course they haven`t experienced the same problems as certainly the national folks have.The Governor introduced me to the people who make it all happen.


SCHULTZ: Governor this hasn`t been a very elaborate roll out of government expenditure to make this happen, has it?

BESHEAR: Well, look at this non-discreet building that this is our nerve center, this is where it all happens and we`ve got dozens of people in here most of whom are already on our payroll, out of the Medicaid office and all of that and then the vendors have their folks in here and we work together and we pull this thing off. I mean it`s an amazing feat but we knew that`s what we wanted to do for the people of Kentucky.

SCHULTZ: And these are Kentucky employees, the call center is Kentucky?

BESHEAR: Exactly and all .

SCHULTZ: So when somebody from Kentucky calls up they get a Kentuckian on the line?

BESHEAR: You`re exactly right.

SCHULTZ: And is there a message there as well? I mean to make people at home that this is really happening for them?

BESHEAR: You know, this is Kentucky doing for Kentuckians. These are people who are dedicated to making this a success because they know that they`re helping Kentucky families and they know that what we`re doing is history making.

SCHULTZ: What`s the biggest piece of hogwash you`ve heard out there?

BESHEAR: We`ll there`s so many things out there, many, you know, many parts of the misinformation project, I would call it, that the critics had been going through but this idea that nobody wants it is one of the craziest ideas in the world. We misprove that in Kentucky with the hundreds of thousands of people in the first 48 hours that were piling on to this website trying to find out about getting affordable health coverage.

And these are the real heroes here in Kentucky. They`re a little blurry-eyed but they`re very happy to be a huge part of the success of this.

SCHULTZ: And nobody is throwing paper at one another or pencils or anything like that. It`s also organized. What`s the key to having this so organized? On the ground floor, what did you do?

BESHEAR: From the very start, we brought our vendors in and combined them with our internal folks, folks in Medicaid, folks in public health, all of the people that work with our programs everyday. And they work hand in hand 24 hours a day seven days a week sometime to make sure that when October the 1st came, we were up in running. We did extensive testing.

You know, we worked up the kinks and then, October 1 came and we hit the ground running and we haven`t stopped yet.

SCHULTZ: People look to Kentucky as a model. And the you come in to hear the call center and it`s working. This is going to be a great sense of pride for you and residents that, you know, you`re doing it the way it`s supposed to be done.

BESHEAR: Well, it`s exciting, Ed, obviously that Kentucky is considered the gold standard and that people nationally and internationally are talking about us and talking about our success. But as I mentioned, these are the heroes here. I mean, they worked for months to get this done. And we`ve got thousands of people all across the state out there right now. The connectors, the insurance agents, the people in the public health area, the non-profits that are onboard with us in educating our people about what this is all about. And I tell, you every time somebody finds out about it, they like what they find.

SCHULTZ: All right. I asked some of those workers in here if Mr. McConnell or Mr. Paul have been in here. And they said, "No, they haven`t been here yet." Would you ask them to come in and see exactly how this is unfolding?

BESHEAR: I`d love to have our whole congressional delegation come in here and see what`s actually happening here. You know, it`s one thing to be in Washington DC and, you know, pass each other like they all do out there, but they need to come and see what`s actually happening on the ground here in Kentucky.

Look at these people. See what they`re doing everyday. Look at the 32,000 Kentuckians that are already signed up for affordable health coverage. Look at the 350,000 people who are swarming all over this website right now trying to get the information so that they can sign up and get affordable health coverage. To me, that`s what`s really going on. I mean that`s where the rubber meets the road is right here on the ground in Kentucky.

SCHULTZ: What do you say to the Republicans who have said that this is going to cost jobs? And that`s why I asked you earlier about small business activity in Kentucky. It`s not going to cost jobs?

BESHEAR: It`s just not the case. You know, that`s just another one of the elements of misinformation that`s being thrown in out there to really discourage people from being a part of this. You know, the economic analysis we did said, no one`s not going to cost job, it`s going to create about 17,000 new jobs.

And we`re finding small business coming on the exchange and being very active. I think we`re close now to about 400 small businesses who have started application just in this month. So we got a lot of good business activity going on here as well.

SCHULTZ: Because the conversation by the opponents of this entire health care effort in America is that small businesses are going to be taxed heavily, that small businesses are going to see their rates go through the roof, and they are not -- they`re going to have to let people go.

BESHEAR: Well, the fact is is that anybody under 50 employees don`t - they don`t have to do anything if they don`t want to. But folks under 25 employees, we`re urging them to check on this exchange because they can get some tax credits and they might be able to provide affordable health insurance for their folks at a lesser cost than what most of them are doing right now.


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