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Shelby woman heads up state’s health care co-op

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By Lisa King

After years in state government working around health care, Shelbyville resident Janie Miller is now heading up one of the most successful heath initiatives in the country.

“I think it’s very exciting to have an opportunity be a part of people getting coverage,” said Janie Miller, CEO of Kentucky Health Cooperative, Inc., a 501(c) 29 organization headquartered in Louisville.

“I’ve worked my entire life in areas around health care, particularly in areas serving individuals who could not afford health care coverage, and it’s really gratifying to be a part of this non-profit cooperative for the consumer. We call it the plan for the people.”

After being appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear in 2008 to serve as the Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Miller was the logical choice for this next step.

In 2012, Beshear tabbed her again, this time to shape the commonwealth’s health care policy and lead the reform relative to the Affordable Care Act.

Miller said that her position as CEO of Kentucky Care Cooperative is an exciting role that she embraces because of the potential to help so many people. And as Monday’s deadline for enrollement approaches, her role continues to intensify.

“My primary function is to build the operational components, obtain the insurance license and really listen to what consumers have wanted,” she said. “That’s what we do every day, and I oversee, as the CEO, the seaming up of the operations, as well as the visions and the strategy of who are we and who we are to serve, and really defining what being a consumer focused non-profit organization should be in the arena of providing health care coverage.”

Miller said the cooperative is still in an early phase, concentrating on making sure that customers are getting set up properly with insurance, as well as getting ready for what will come next.

“Then we go into the next phase when members really start to try to figure out, ‘now that I have this health coverage, how do I use it?’” she said. “In fact, we’re kicking off some member newsletters, and we’ve done some things on our Web site to help members understand how to navigate [our site] and how to do basic things, like co-payments and deductibles and prior authorization.

“Also we do believe that some of our members have pent up demands for service. They’ve not had health insurance before and now that they do, they’re coming in and getting their health care conditions treated. So it’s very gratifying to us that we are able to help people get enrolled, get their coverage, get their ID card, answer questions, but more importantly, helping them get long standing health conditions treated.”

Now Miller will begin looking down the road even further.

“The next phase will be education,” she said. “Now that you’ve got your immediate concerns dealt with, now let’s talk about prevention, and what you can do for you and your family about getting prevention services.”

Although the cooperative has not yet released specific enrollment numbers, Miller said the response has been better than expectd.

“We’re just so pleased,” she said. “We have a large number of members, and we’re gratified that a lot of people have chosen us.”

Miller, a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University, has lived in Shelbyville for 35 years with her husband, Gary Miller, vice president of finance at Landmark Community Newspapers, the parent company of The Sentinel-News.