Beshear: Bevin plan to repeal Medicaid expansion is ‘shortsighted’

Gov. Steve Beshear, in a statement released Tuesday, said Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin’s plan to repeal the expansion of Medicaid in Kentucky and his plan to find an alternative solution through federal waivers is “short-sighted” and would cost the state more than the plan Kentucky currently has in place.

“One constant in Mr. Bevin’s ever-changing position on Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion is his consistent lack of understanding of health care. Several of his most recent statements are misleading. Regardless of the model a state chooses to cover its Medicaid expansion population, the state share remains the same – no more than 10 percent in 2020.”

Beshear challenged Bevin to “identify who among our newly insured Kentuckians he believe should lose health care coverage. Which hospitals, physicians and other providers does he think should bear the brunt of a return to increased uncompensated care?”

The governor said the Congressional Budget Office has found that waivers used to expand Medicaid in different ways “will likely cost more than the expansion as we have implemented it in Kentucky. This is a short-sighted view for the future of our Commonwealth, which is the 47th sickest state in the country. Kentucky has a plan in place that is working. Last week’s Census report showed Kentucky with the biggest drop in the uninsured rate in the country from 2013 to 2014. During this time frame, 16,000 children gained health insurance.”

Bsehear said that’s good for Kentucky’s economic future because “better health, especially for our workforce, has tangible positive impacts – fewer sick days, more production and a higher quality of life for our citizens. Mr. Bevin doesn’t seem to understand this connection.”

Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid to people in households earning up to 138 percent of the poverty level has added about 400,000 Kentuckians to the federal-state program. The federal government pays the entire cost of the expansion through next year. In 2017, the state begins to pay 5 percent, rising to the federal health-reform law’s cap of 10 percent in 2020.

Bevin insist that Kentucky cannot afford to pay for this expansion, despite a state-funded report by Deloitte Consulting that says the expansion pays for itself through 2020 by creating health-care jobs and generating tax revenue.

At a health forum sponsored by the Kentucky Rural Health Association Sept. 18, Bevin said,” “We will not, and I can’t be more clear about this,we will not continue to enroll or re-enroll people at 138 percent of the federal poverty level.”

He said that his plan is to apply to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for waivers under Section 1115 of the Social Security Act “to customize something that allows us to provide for these same folks.” In July, he said he would use examples from other states, like Indiana, which requires Medicaid expansion patients to make co-payments.

Bevin spokeswoman Jessica Ditto did not offer a response to the governor’s statement.

Sannie Overly, Attorney General Jack Conway’s running mate for lieutenant governor, said at the forum, “Jack and I are going to monitor our Medicaid expansion to make sure that we can continue to afford [it] moving forward, but what we won’t do, and what our opponents have said they would do, on video and in writing, is to kick nearly 500,000 Kentuckians off their health care.”

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