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Report: Medicaid Expansion Would Help 27,000 KY Vets and Families

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013   

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Thousands of veterans without insurance or only Veterans Administration coverage stand to benefit if Kentucky expands Medicaid, according to a report from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

About 22,000 veterans in the state are without health insurance. The center's executive director, Jason Bailey, said nearly 11,000 of them would be covered if the governor approves expansion.

"These are Kentuckians that we see every day, that have put their lives on the line for the rest of us," he said, "and they would have the dignity and security of health coverage if the state moved forward."

Nationwide, 1.3 million veterans don't have health insurance, according to the report.

Gov. Steve Beshear has not made a decision on expansion yet, placing Kentucky among 16 undecided states. So far, 22 states have decided to expand their Medicaid programs, while 13 have opted not to.

Part of the Affordable Care Act extends Medicaid eligibility to people at 138 percent of the federal poverty line. The federal government would cover the expansion cost in the first three years. After that, the state has to foot 10 percent of the bill. That's still what Bailey called "a good deal."

"Around 300,000 Kentuckians would get health insurance - so, we'd be healthier," Bailey said. "There would be federal dollars pouring into the state that will provide jobs for health-care providers. It's just a win-win all around."

Beshear says he's still weighing the cost of expansion. Some Republican lawmakers have told him Kentucky can't afford it. Bailey said he hopes the number of veterans who would be helped will "open up" the debate on Medicaid expansion.

"Potentially make it be a less ideological conversation and a more practical one," he said. "We have lots of Kentuckians that don't have health insurance, and they're real people - and in this instance, they're veterans."

Beyond helping 11,000 veterans who currently have no health insurance, the report claims 7,000 family members would also receive coverage, along with 9,000 veterans who have only VA services.

The full report is online at kypolicy.us.


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