Republicans moving to gain a say over Beshear’s decisions about insurance exchange, Medicaid expansion; Democrat dismissive

Kentucky Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chair Julie Denton, R-Louisville, left, said yesterday that she would file legislation that would block Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear from setting up a health-insurance exchange or expanding Medicaid coverage without legislative approval, Joseph Gerth of The Courier-Journal reports. Beshear has already established an exchange under the federal health reform, but hasn’t announced whether he will expand Medicaid.

Denton said the exchanges and Medicaid expansion would be too costly for the state and shouldn’t be something Beshear can set up unilaterally. But her effort will likely face opposition in the Democrat-controlled House, Gerth writes. Liberal Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, said Denton “should save the ink that it would take to print the bills,” and House Democrats would not receive the bill favorably. Burch has been in the legislature longer than any other current member.

State health-insurance exchanges will allow the uninsured to buy insurance from private companies and perhaps get government subsidies to help pay for it. If Medicaid were expanded in Kentucky, hundreds of thousands of more people would be covered, with the fedreal government paying all the extra cost in 2014-16, decreasing to 90 percent by 2020. Gerth reports that Senate Republicans said they will make it a priority “to rein in Beshear on Medicaid,” which they fear would be unsustainable if it were expanded. Denton said requiring legislative approval of these parts of “Obamacare” would give Kentucky citizens a greater voice in the process. (Read more)

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