Gov. Steve Beshear has scheduled a news briefing Tuesday afternoon to provide an update on efforts to implement federal health care reforms in Kentucky.
The event is set for 1 p.m. EDT at the Capitol.
Beshear has been an advocate for the reforms that he says will provide access to medical care to more than 600,000 uninsured Kentucky residents. Nearly half of those will be added to the state's Medicaid program. The remainder, he said, will be able to get insurance through an online health benefits exchange.
Joining Beshear for the briefing will be Health and Family Services Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes, Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange Executive Director Carrie Banahan and Kentucky Department of Insurance Commissioner Sharon Clark.
Kentucky is one of six states along with Puerto Rico that will participate in a program to help drive down medical costs by targeting frequent healthcare system users.
Staff from the National Governors Association and other experts will help train officials from participating states to develop a plan for super-utilizers. These are patients who may benefit from less costly, more appropriate treatment elsewhere.
Dr. Stephanie Mayfield is commissioner of Kentucky’s Department of Public Health. She says the commonwealth will focus on frequent emergency room users. Last year, thousands of Medicaid patients used the ER 10 times or more.
“What we’re hoping the plan will be is that emergency rooms are there strictly to be used as emergency rooms and that we develop a plan so that they’re not de facto primary care centers any longer," says Mayfield.
The training academy will help participating states develop plans around healthcare policy. The program will run for a year and begins in August.
The planned expansion of Kentucky's Medicaid program coupled with a push to help the uninsured obtain health coverage could exacerbate the state's shortage of physicians, according to a report released Wednesday.
Deloitte Consulting, a technology firm that's helping to set up the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, unveiled the report showing Kentucky's 10,475 primary care physicians and specialists are far short of the actual need.
However, the firm concluded that Kentucky would need to find ways to increase the number of doctors and other medical professionals even if it didn't expand medical coverage to more than 600,000 new patients.
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.