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Census Bureau: KY Health Coverage Would Benefit Big from State Medicaid Expansion

September 10. 2012

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Fifteen percent of the people in Kentucky, roughly 640,000 residents, do not have health insurance. Groups that make up Kentucky Voices for Health (KVH) say the state could bring those numbers way down by doing one thing.

KVH Executive Director Jodi Mitchell says it involves a provision of the Affordable Care Act.

"The administration has the option of expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act, so we're looking at this and saying, 'There is tremendous opportunity here to provide coverage.'"

Those who oppose expanding coverage say while the federal government would pick up the bill at first, that funding drops off 90 percent by 2020. Mitchell estimates the number of uninsured in Kentucky would drop by roughly 50 percent if Medicaid were expanded, however, which would save costs associated with so many people receiving uncompensated health care.

Medicaid expansion also would place a net under adults in Kentucky who have low income, but not low enough to qualify for Medicaid currently, she adds.

"The potential for improving Kentucky's health by getting these folks in the system where there has currently been a gap is huge."

The Census Bureau reports that, in Kentucky, cases of children without health care have been dropping, but the number of adults without coverage is on the rise. Gov. Beshear has not said for sure if he plans to expand Medicaid in Kentucky or not.

The full report is available at www.census.gov.

Tom Joseph, Public News Service - KY