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Gov. Beshear: Kentucky Can Afford Kynect, Medicaid Expansion
Access to health coverage helping to chisel away at generational health problems
From Terry Sebastian and Jennifer Brislin
Gov. Steve Beshear's Communications Office
FRANKFORT, KY (13 Nov 2015) - Making an evidence-based case that Kentucky needs to continue its transformative and nation-leading health reform efforts, Gov. Steve Beshear joined health-care advocates today to talk about steady improvements in noted health measures as well as the hugely positive economic impact for the medical industry.
Among other things, Gov. Beshear cited progress on health statistics under the kyhealthnow initiative as well as the addition of almost $3 billion in direct revenue to Kentucky providers as reasons to continue the two programs through which over half a million Kentuckians have accessed health coverage - what's known as "Medicaid expansion" and kynect, the Commonwealth's state-based Health Benefit Exchange.
"There are only two factors on which to judge the health-care solutions we've employed in the last eight years," Gov. Beshear said. "One, are they working? And two, can we afford them? Today we give a clear, definitive and undisputed answer to both of those questions - yes, they're working, and yes, we can afford them."
Noting that Governor-elect Matt Bevin has promised to roll back various parts of Kentucky's nation-leading health reform efforts, Gov. Beshear encouraged him not to rush into the decision but instead to study financial and health data and to talk to the people who have been fighting the health-care fight for the last eight years - families, providers, businesses, advocates and policy-makers.
Citing the latest information from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Office of the State Budget Director, Gov. Beshear said that it would cost $300.2 million more in the next two-year budget cycle to roll back Medicaid expansion than it would to keep it.
He also described two new sources of revenue that are currently unbudgeted and thus commonly ignored by critics: A 1 percent assessment on managed care organizations and insurance companies that is projected to bring in about $140 million in the two years, and a new, aggressive push to verify eligibility of Medicaid members to ensure they all meet all qualifications, which is expected to create savings of about $38 million over the biennium.
Gov. Beshear also evoked financial arguments and customer service concerns in making the case for keeping kynect, which has been a model for other states, instead of moving to the most costly and less efficient federal exchange. Moving to the federal exchange would:
"It's inconceivable to me why - just to make a partisan political statement - Kentucky would want to go backward and become the first state to decommission a successful exchange."
The Governor made his push for continued access to health care while receiving the final progress report from members of his kyhealthnow initiative. The Governor created kyhealthnow in 2014 to track the progress of health care reforms and advance the well-being of Kentucky's citizens.
The report, presented by Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, its chair, found significant advancements toward achieving the initiative's seven major goals:
"Kentucky has made real progress in reducing youth and adult smoking, adult obesity, and cancer and cardiovascular disease deaths, and in increasing access to health care," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Even more progress is possible with teamwork between public health and health care systems, and these efforts should protect the health of people in Kentucky for years to come."
Gov. Beshear's creation of kynect and the expansion of Medicaid eligibility in 2013 helped Kentucky bring health coverage to over half a million Kentuckians, many of whom didn't have it at the time.
A recent report by Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families and Kentucky Youth Advocates found that because of those decisions, the number of uninsured children in the Commonwealth fell 27 percent in the first year of expansion - moving Kentucky from 28th in the nation to 15th in state rankings on children's health care coverage.
Gov. Beshear said critics of health care reform should read independent studies by health providers and health policy experts.
One study, by Deloitte Consulting and the University of Louisville Urban Studies Institute, of Kentucky's first year under Medicaid expansion showed "clearly what a good financial deal this is for our budget and our economy, both now and for the long term."
The Deloitte report was supported by a similar study commissioned in 2013 before the Governor made the decision to expand Medicaid.
"Furthermore, the more we improve our health and the more we improve our economy, the less we will need to rely on programs like Medicaid. This is a long-term plan for improving Kentucky. But you don't see it if you're blinded by short-term political concerns."
This story was posted on 2015-11-16 05:27:43
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