FRANKFORT, Ky. (5/10/13) – Calling it “the single-most important decision in our lifetime for improving the health of Kentuckians,” Gov. Steve Beshear today announced the inclusion of 308,000 more Kentuckians in the federal Medicaid health insurance program. The expansion, together with the creation of the Health Benefit Exchange, will ensure that every Kentuckian will have access to affordable health insurance.
According to the office of Governor Beshear, the expansion – made in accordance with the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) – will help hundreds of thousands of Kentucky families improve the state’s health, create nearly 17,000 new jobs and have a $15.6 billion positive economic impact on the state between its beginning in Fiscal Year 2014 and full implementation in Fiscal Year 2021, he said.
“I have repeatedly said that I believe it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth and its citizens to provide better access to health care for our people. My only concern was the cost,” said Gov. Beshear. “We have now done the exhaustive research – and our conclusion matched what most other states have found: by expanding Medicaid, Kentucky will come out ahead in terms of both health outcomes and finances. In fact, if we don’t expand Medicaid, we will lose money.”
Several months of internal analysis – as well as outside studies conducted by the University of Louisville and the Price Waterhouse Coopers accounting and actuarial firm – determined that the expansion was a good deal for those families and for taxpayers. The reviews gathered information about possible impacts to citizen health, the state budget, workforce and economic development.
Medicaid currently provides health care for low-income or disabled citizens. After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA last year, states have the option to expand Medicaid eligibility to individuals who earn up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), with the guarantee that the federal government will cover the entire cost for the first three years.
The expansion will be effective January 1, 2014. By expanding, every Kentucky citizen will have access to affordable health care, either through Medicaid or through the Health Benefits Exchange – no one will fall into a coverage gap.
The Governor cited several key reasons for expanding the program, including:
• drastic improvements to Kentucky’s abysmal health rankings;
• millions in savings to the state budget and Kentucky taxpayers;
• billions in economic impact to the state, including nearly 17,000 new jobs;
• preventing costly penalties to businesses and protecting hospital funding; and
• broad support from health care advocates, county officials, and medical providers.
A new state website houses information about the expansion, including the CHFS white paper and letters from supporters. Visitors can also explore county-by-county data such as how many citizens will be newly eligible for Medicaid, or how much county jails spent on medical care last year. Visit http://governor.ky.gov/healthierky to learn more.
Information provided by the office of Gov. Steve Beshear
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