After months of deliberations, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has decided to expand Medicaid in Kentucky under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare—a move that's won praise from Democrats and health advocacy groups.
Beshear said Thursday that expansion benefits Kentucky in many ways.
"This move makes sense not only for our health but also for our pocketbook. More important it makes sense for our future," he says.
The expansion will insure more than 308,000 Kentuckians. And according to studies done by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Studies Institute at the University of Louisville, Medicaid expansion would bring about $800 million to Kentucky between next year and 2021.
Beshear says critics of the expansion are more worried about politics than good policy.
"They express vague and broad anxieties about costs, fears which the facts refute and they fall back on partisan national politics. If Kentucky expands Medicaid they ask, won't Kentucky be supporting Obamacare, they ask. Well to them I say, Get over it," he says.
A leading health organization in Kentucky is putting the pressure on Gov. Steve Beshear to expand Medicaid services under the Affordable Care Act.
Kentucky Voices for Health Executive Director Regan Hunt says her group is launching a two-week radio ad campaign pressure Beshear to expand Medicaid. The radio ad campaign will be partnered with a month long online ad campaign.
So far, the governor has delayed making a decision— although he seems to support the ideal, if fiscally possible.
Under the healthcare law, the federal government will pay 100 percent of expansion costs for three years and then 90 percent after that.
A new political group will hit the airwaves just after the Kentucky Derby to oppose the federal healthcare law.
The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition will run ads attacking the Affordable Care Act. They've declined to release the spot early, but have hinted that it will feature various voices calling the law a train wreck.
The KOC is run by three area women, Kristen Webb and Bridget Bush of Louisville and Karen Sellers of Paintsville. The group is being advised by Scott Jennings, a longtime ally of U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell. Jennings is also running a separate Super PAC aimed at helping re-elect McConnell.
Even though the Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional, it still faces opposition from Republicans who hope to repeal it.
Tennessee Senate Republicans are proposing legislation that seeks to prevent expansion of the state Medicaid program under provisions of President Obama's health care law.
The measure, called "TennCare Fiscal Responsibility Act", was filed Thursday by Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown and has 15 Senate co-sponsors. A similar version of the proposal was filed last week in the House. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states have the right to opt out of Medicaid expansion without losing pre-existing federal Medicaid funding.
One lesser-known aspect of the Affordable Care Act is it’s reliance on state health cooperatives — which work separate of the state- or federally run health exchange, but are free to offer their own brand of insurance on the exchange.
But recent Congressional deal-making is putting those co-ops in danger.
While states are getting grants to fund their exchanges, co-ops were getting federal loans which had to be paid back within five years.
But the Washington Post reports that the fiscal cliff deal struck weeks ago kills off the co-op loan program for many states. But because of early planning, the Kentucky Health Cooperative isn’t in any funding danger, spokesman Jim McHanie says.
“Our funding is in place and we’re moving right ahead in fact we’re in the start-up phase of development and we plan to start offering coverage effective January 1, 2014,” he says.
As the 2013 Kentucky legislative session begins, Tea Party activists are encouraging lawmakers to abandon the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — in the state because of fiscal and health care concerns.
About 50 activists rallied in the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday; they wanted their state legislators to hear their concerns as the 2013 legislative session began.
Kentucky can’t afford running its own health exchanges or to expand Medicaid, argued David Adams, a rally organizer.
“It doesn’t take a forensic accountant to look at our fiscal situation and realize that we have no business getting into this sandbox whatsoever,” Adams says.
Despite progress toward building a state-run health insurance exchange in Kentucky, Governor Steve Beshear will likely have to re-issue an executive order to keep it alive.
Beshear issued an order creating the exchange earlier this year, after the Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act was constitutional. And it’s a goal of state health officials to get the exchange protected under a law, rather than an executive order.
But Republican State Senator Tom Buford says his colleagues aren’t likely to support an exchange law.
“Probably not, in my opinion, we will probably allow the Governor to re-order the executive order again," said Buford.