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Gov. Beshear Accepts Medicaid Expansion

kentucky medicaid expansion

Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky said on Thursday he will accept the Medicaid Expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act and seek to expand Medicaid coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in his home state of Kentucky. A decision that has the potential to severely reduced the number of uninsured individuals in Kentucky.

The Governor made the decision after reviewing both internal and external reports completed by outside research groups including the University of Louisville and Price Waterhouse Coopers. The research showed expanding Medicaid would create 17,000 new jobs and add $15.6 billion to the state’s economy between a 7 year period starting in 2014 and ending in 2021.

The planned Medicaid Expansion in Kentucky has the potential to extend coverage to 300, 000 adults earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line. This number would nearly cut in half the number of  individuals in Kentucky who currently lack health coverage which is estimated to be at 640,000

Kentucky’s current Medicaid program provides coverage to only adults with dependent children, leaving many individuals with low income with no medical coverage.

While this may seems as a positive path for many individual residents of the state, it is wise to remember Kentucky’s legislature is split between Democrats and Republicans but its politics has a strong conservative flavor, additionally The state’s representatives in Congress include U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Republican Senator Rand Paul, Both who are strong opponents of the law and have continuously called for it to be repealed.

Beshear said Kentucky also researched considered various other options but ultimately rejected them, such as a plan like the one proposed by the State of Arkansas, which would expand coverage to low-income people by using federal Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance. Governor Beshear said that idea proved too costly to the state and to the program.

Update: As of July here are some updated numbers

640,000 Uninsured Kentuckians: 308,000 Can Gain Health Insurance Through Expansion,
332,000 Can Gain Coverage Through the Health Benefit Exchange.

  • An estimated 640,000 Kentuckians are uninsured, or 17.5% of the state’s population under 65.
  • Almost half of the uninsured, an estimated 308,000 Kentuckians, have an income level below 138% of FPL and will qualify for Medicaid under this expansion. That is more than the population of Lexington and Fayette County.
  • The remaining 332,000 uninsured individuals will have access to coverage through the Health Benefit Exchange. 276,000 are between 138 and 400% FPL, and will qualify through HBE with a federal subsidy. 55,000 of those are above 400% FPL, and can gain coverage through HBE without a federal subsidy.
  •  The ACA does not allow for subsidies through HBE for those under 100% FPL. Therefore, if the state does not expand Medicaid, the 206,000 uninsured Kentuckians who fall under that threshold would NOT be able to get Medicaid or a subsidy through HBE.



Update 9/2013


There had been several questions with regards to Kentucky’s plan to expand Medicaid. In separate rulings, The Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd did upheld both decisions made by Gov. Steve Beshear regarding his intention to expand access to health care to the estimated  640,000 uninsured under obamacare, or Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

This ruling by the judge pushes a sides  Tea Party activist David Adams and others who insisted that Beshear’s actions must be ratified by the legislature.

“The Kentucky Supreme Court has held that this legislative power may be delegated to the executive branch of government in these circumstances, so long as there are standards governing the exercise of discretion, and the legislature retains the authority to withdraw the delegation,” Shepherd wrote in the case upholding the expansion of Medicaid. “Those conditions are clearly met here.”

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