WKU Public Radio News Staff
Mon March 31, 2014
Budget Deal Includes Language to Prohibit Kentucky General Funds to Be Used for ACA Implementation
Provisions to block state money from being used on Kentucky's implementation of the Affordable Care Act will remain in the budget agreement reached over the weekend by state lawmakers. Sparring between House Democrats and Senate Republicans over the ACA dominated negotiations.
The ACA covers the costs of implementation through 2017, after which the tab will be split with the state.
Now, Senate President Robert Stivers says lawmakers will send the governor a budget that blocks general funds from going toward the state's health insurance exchange, Kynect, and the expansion of Medicaid.
"I think everybody saw that we have worked hard over the last three or four days," the Manchester Republican said. "There's been a lot of discussions. At points in time there may have been a little bit of political theater involved but we've reached an agreement, compromising and understanding the realities of each person's positions and each region's positions and each party's positions."
Currently, over 320,000 people have been insured through Kynect, with two-thirds obtaining Medicaid coverage.
It also appears the compromise deal will include funds for cancer screenings. Those funds were cut by the Senate from a previous version of the $20 billion budget but Stivers says the new compromise will restore baseline funding for a number of preventative care options.
Indigent Health Care:
Money for indigent health care in Louisville has also been restored. The budget compromise will appropriate $10 million over the next two years for the fund at the University of Louisville that pays for treating poorer patients at the University's hospital. It was previously cut in an earlier version of the budget.The city of Louisville will have to pay $8 million over the next two years toward the cost of indigent care.
The annual number of mine inspections in Kentucky will decrease from its current level of six down to four. The Senate had previously reduced the number of annual inspections to two but the state Energy & Environment Cabinet said that would put miners' lives in danger.
And leaders of the budget compromise say it'll include funding for a proposed multi-million dollar renovation of the University of Kentucky's Rupp Arena. Lexington mayor Jim Gray asked lawmakers to use bonds to pay for $65 million of a $30 million renovation.
Legislative leaders have provided scant details of their final decision, but House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the state will provide a path forward should the project's financing plan pass muster.
Mayor Gray pitched his case to lawmakers during the marathon budget talks over the weekend, but was prohibited from offering any details of the project due to a verbal non-disclosure agreement he made with the university.