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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Actually Mr. President, the Affordable Care Act Has Been a Huge Success in Kentucky

In his address to Congress last night, President Donald Trump repeated the falsehood that the Affordable Care Act is “failing” in Kentucky. 

Trump was quoting Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin who said last weekend that coverage wasn’t a good measure of whether health reform was successful, implying that people getting coverage under the ACA, and Medicaid in particular, aren’t getting access to health care.

Kentucky is an Affordable Care Act success story

That’s just not true. By most measures, Kentucky’s experience with the health care law has been a success story. And an example of what can be achieved if states fully implement the ACA. 

Kentucky Governor Bevin’s predecessor, Steve Beshear, set up a highly successful state marketplace and expanded Medicaid ​under the ACA. 

Since the 2015 election of Governor Bevin, who opposes the ACA and Medicaid, Kentucky’s successful program has been in jeopardy. 

Affordable Care Act coverage is helping Kentuckians get health care 

Contrary to Governor Bevin’s implication that ACA coverage isn’t working, Kentuckians have been able to get both health coverage and health care through the ACA’s marketplace (Kynect) and Medicaid expansion. 

Since the health care law took effect, Kentucky has experienced the second largest decrease in its uninsured rate in the entire country.

Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion linked to better access to health care

In particular, Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion has been a tremendous success.

In the program’s first year, more than 400,000 Kentuckians gained health insurance. That expanded coverage corresponded with a large drop in unmet medical needs.   

The Kentuckians gaining Medicaid coverage have seen improved access to health care, including better access to preventive care. 

Deloitte Consulting issued a report examining the first year of Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion, including data about how people newly enrolled in the program used medical services. 

The report noted that in the first year of Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion:  

  • 232,266 enrollees had non-annual physician visits
  • 159,886 received medication monitoring
  • 89,693 had cholesterol screening
  • 149,201 received preventive or other dental visits
  • Nearly 80,000 received a cancer screening

   
That’s just a partial list of all the services that these newly covered Kentuckians used. Data show that access to preventive health services can improve individuals’ health, meaning the state’s Medicaid expansion has put Kentuckians on a path to better health.

Kentucky’s not alone. Medicaid has been helping people across the country get access to affordable health care for more than 50 years.

Governor Bevin is right about one thing 

Governor Bevin is right about one thing: Coverage is not the only measure of a health system’s success. The real goal is better health outcomes. Today in Kentucky, thanks to expanded Medicaid coverage, hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians can afford to see a doctor and are on their way to living healthier lives. 

While insurance coverage isn’t the only measure of success, it is the necessary first step. Just try to get in to see a doctor and get those cancer screenings without it. That doesn’t work so well unless you’re rich.

 

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