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Governor Beshear Gives Medicaid Expansion the Green Light

PHOTO: Governor Steve Beshear says Kentucky will expand Medicaid.
PHOTO: Governor Steve Beshear says Kentucky will expand Medicaid.
May 10, 2013

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear gave the green light Thursday to Medicaid expansion in Kentucky.

The governor says enlarging the government health care program will provide coverage to an additional 308,000 Kentuckians, cutting the state's uninsured population in half.

Cathy Allgood Murphy, associate director for advocacy with AARP Kentucky, says expansion will help Kentuckians up to age 64 who don't have health insurance and are currently unable to qualify for Medicaid.

"We're helping older Americans who've lost their jobs that can't find new ones,” she adds, “and they can't get affordable health care."

Allgood Murphy says expansion will also provide Medicaid to an estimated 14,800 uninsured and under-insured veterans and their spouses.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, says providing health care to thousands of uninsured parents will also benefit their children.

"There is a direct correlation between parents being insured,” he explains, “and parents taking their kids to see the doctor for well-care exams and for more preventative care."

There are an estimated 162,000 uninsured parents in Kentucky. Brooks says Medicaid expansion will provide coverage to 97,000 of those parents.

The federal government will foot the entire bill for the first three years. In 2017, the state will have to start paying a small percentage of the expansion costs.

Republican lawmakers warn the state cannot afford the long-term costs, while the governor claims the move will create nearly 17,000 new jobs and pump more than $15 billion into the economy over the next six years.

Allgood Murphy of AARP calls it a smart investment.

"I mean we're paying for this care anyway by doing charitable care through the hospitals,” she maintains. “Folks going to the ER – they can't pay for it. We're paying higher premiums, those who are covered. So this is smart all the way around and it's a responsible way to do it."

The expansion, which will begin in January, will push the Medicaid eligibility cut-off to 138 percent of the federal poverty rate.


Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY