Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communication Office
House of Representatives Overwhelmingly Pass Governor Fletcher's ICARE Program

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, February 07, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall
Jodi Whitaker
Troy Body

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Fletcher’s effort to support Kentucky’s small businesses that provide and maintain insurance coverage for their employees, HB 445, passed the House of Representatives today. Known as Insurance Coverage, Affordability and Relief to (small) Employers, or ICARE, this initiative helps the commonwealth’s small businesses keep a competitive edge while providing health care to employees.

“Small businesses make up the fabric of Kentucky’s economy,” said Governor Fletcher. “ICARE helps those businesses compete nationally and internationally while taking care of their workers.”

ICARE provides immediate relief to a longstanding problem for Kentucky’s small businesses. The program stabilizes and enhances the small group market by decreasing volatility. It encourages coverage of the previously uninsured and those employees defined with a high cost condition.

“The House today sent a strong bi-partisan message as to the importance of small businesses in the commonwealth,” said Rep. Tommy Thompson (D – Owensboro). “With the passage of this bill in the house and the hopeful-like action by the senate, Kentucky’s small businesses can continue to be an engine of economic growth for our state.”

Representative Brandon Smith (R- Hazard) commends the Governor and House of Representatives for working together. “This was a collaborative effort between me, Governor Fletcher’s office, Representative Thompson and the General Assembly,” said Smith. “Not only did we see a problem, we actually did something about it. I applaud everyone’s efforts.”

Governor Fletcher said he is pleased with the passage of the bill and the collaborative efforts of the House membership, but stated he is very disappointed some of its original provisions were removed in committee. “The transparency and public protection provisions are critical to improving health care in Kentucky,” said Governor Fletcher. “They are crucial to controlling costs and providing a common sense approach to this system. These facts simply cannot be ignored.”