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.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear is set to announce whether or not he’ll expand Kentucky’s Medicaid program.
The Governor’s office says Beshear will share his decision Thursday at a 1:30 p.m. eastern time news conference at the state capitol building.
Under the federal Affordable Care Act, each state has the option of expanding its Medicaid services to those earning less than 133 percent of the poverty rate. The federal government has agreed to pay each state’s additional costs related to expansion for the first three years, with Washington picking up 90 percent of the tab each following year.
Some conservatives and Tea Party activists have called on Beshear not to agree to the expansion, saying the commonwealth can’t afford any additional costs.
Supporters say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to extend the program to a wider number of Kentuckians who are struggling with high health care costs.
Health departments across Kentucky continue to make cuts because of a dispute between the state and a managed-care company hired to help serve Medicaid patients.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the cuts include laying off workers, ending school health programs and decreasing clinic hours.
Kentucky Health Departments Association President Scott Lockard told the newspaper that health departments cut 53 workers last year, and another 95 have been cut this year. He said some departments are facing furloughs through July 1.
The Madison County Health Department, for example, announced the end of its school nurse program in February. Fayette County's health department ended that program last year.