Gov. Andy Beshear on Tuesday updated Kentuckians on several topics, including the hiring of a firm to assist with unemployment insurance claims; an extension to apply for food benefits; case information; and case information for the state.
Unemployment insurance update
Beshear announced the state has hired a globally renowned firm, Ernst & Young, to assist with about 56,000 initial claims from March, April and May have not been processed.
“We expect to have 200 E&Y staffers that will begin processing claims on Monday, with another 100 coming soon,” Beshear said. “Our goal is to process all unresolved claims between March 6 and May 31 in July.”
The firm can provide 300 employees to resolve outstanding claims quickly. Ernst & Young has recent experience processing unemployment claims in Colorado.
The ready-to-go experts save more than $15 million in annual costs that would be associated with payroll, benefits, equipment and training if the state hired new employees.
The contract with E&Y is covered under federal CARES Act funding.
The state’s deal with Ernst & Young begins July 1 and runs for four weeks. Its workers will help process claims both in person and over the phone. Officials estimate the contract staffers will be able to process at least 50,000 claims. Ernst & Young also will review the state unemployment insurances processes, data and technology architecture.
Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer extension
Eric Friedlander, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, provided information Tuesday about an extension of benefits aimed at keeping children healthy and properly fed.
The deadline to apply for Pandemic-Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) has been extended until the end of August. P-EBT provides equivalent funding for meals that students would have been provided in school this spring without the closures due to COVID-19.
“We’ve seen a recent upsurge in folks who are trying to get the P-EBT benefits, and there still remains some questions from folks who are trying to get through,” Friedlander said. “So with this big upsurge, we’ve signed up over 516,000 individuals. We know there are another 100,000 out there. So we want to give everybody the opportunity to sign up.”
Kentuckians who are uninsured can apply for short-term coverage through Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility. Families can apply online at chfs.ky.gov or benefind.ky.gov, by contacting an application assister at healthbenefitexchange.ky.gov or by calling 855-459-6328.
Beshear said there were at least 15,624 coronavirus cases in Kentucky, 282 of which were newly reported Tuesday. He reported five new deaths, raising the total to 565 for the state. At least 3,990 Kentuckians have recovered from the virus. There have been at least 404,781 coronavirus tests performed statewide.