With a trembling voice, Rae Barr spoke at a podium at the state capitol on Tuesday. She was there to speak on behalf of the Keep Kentucky Covered Coalition, which seeks to ensure that all of the state’s citizens have access to health insurance.
Barr shared the story of two of her life goals: to operate a successful small farm with her husband and to start a family. Barr says both of those dreams depend on good health and good access to health care.
The coalition is organized by Kentucky Voices for Health. The group’s aim is to improve upon the state health insurance exchange Kynect, keep Medicaid free of cost barriers, and promote stakeholder participation in the waiver process proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin.
Family farmers, who are often self-employed, have particular concerns about health care. Martin Richards, executive director of the Community Farm Alliance, said in a prepared statement that “America and Kentucky asks a lot from our farmers. We expect them to provide us with food, fiber, and much of our renewable energy needs… The least we can do is provide them with the opportunity for affordable healthcare.”
At the Keep Kentucky Covered Coalition press conference, Richards addressed the benefits of the Affordable Care Act for farmers.
Oldham County farmer Ben Abell told reporters about the difficult choices he and his wife have had to make over the years. The farm couple used to have only catastrophic coverage. Now with a growing family, insurance has become a requirement in their lives.
Carolyn Gahn and her husband also farm. She said having access to affordable health care has made a huge difference in her life. It’s a difference she does not want to lose.
Each speaker said they appreciated that the Kynect program provides “Kynectors.” That’s an adviser who can connect them with the resources and insurance plans that suit the fluctuating finances that can accompany farm careers. They said it’s an invaluable service that gives them peace of mind, and they’re asking lawmakers to help them keep it.
Follow @ReneeKET on Twitter for updates throughout the day, and for a recap of the full day’s activities, watch Legislative Update, weeknights at 11 on KET. You can also follow the Kentucky General Assembly on KET’s Legislative Coverage app for your smartphone or tablet.