With a new president and Congress, the health care gains made throughout the last six years face their greatest threat yet. Congress has voted more than 60 times to roll back the historic progress that has been made to expand health coverage to millions of people in this country and to improve coverage for those who already had it. These proposed changes will put the health—and lives—of countless Kentuckians at risk. Here’s what Kentucky stands to lose if the new president and Congress move forward to upend our health care system:
Since he was elected in November, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has been threatening to recast a successful health care program to fit his political ideology. This week his administration released their proposal for a section 1115 waiver to make changes to its Medicaid expansion program. Many of the proposed changes are likely to harm the hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians who have coverage under the program.
In horse racing, it is not a good idea to change jockeys when you have a winner. That is why Governor–elect Matt Bevin should not rush into a decision on Kentucky’s winning approach to health coverage. It is not just the economic case that the new governor should consider. Bevin must grapple with the impact an upheaval in the health care system would have on the state’s low-income workers and their families.
The off-year elections in Louisiana, Kentucky, and Virginia aren’t dominating the Twitterverse like the presidential primary debates.
But the outcomes will determine the momentum of the ACA in the region that has been most resistant to expansion.
As enrollment assisters seek new populations to enroll in health coverage, people involved in the criminal justice system offer great potential for successful outreach.
In 2014, Kentucky accepted federal funds to provide health insurance to more low-income residents through Medicaid. Medicaid expansion gives low- and middle-income Kentucky residents the chance to enroll in affordable health insurance.
States that expand Medicaid are making high-quality health coverage available to many hard-working people who would not otherwise have insurance. These individuals don’t qualify for regular Medicaid but cannot afford private health insurance. We looked at data from 11 states that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and found that the majority of residents who can benefit from expanded Medicaid are employed.
Two recent reports illustrate how residents of Kentucky are benefiting from Medicaid expansion. Not only has the state experienced one of the largest drops in its uninsured rate in the country, it's also seen a substantial increase in Medicaid enrollees’ use of preventive health care.
Last week’s Gallup poll indicates that states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act saw larger decreases in their uninsured rates than states that did not. This coverage means access to care, which includes preventive services that help keep people healthy and health care costs low.
In recent months, there’s been an increased interest in improving access to health care for people who are recently released from incarceration or otherwise involved in the criminal justice system. While incarcerated, people generally cannot get access to health care through Medicaid or the marketplace. But when they are released, many are eligible. Assisters in a number of states are working to help what is known as “the justice-involved” population enroll in health coverage, both through the marketplace and in Medicaid.
On April 29, Families USA released a report that profiles two residents in neighboring states: Iowa, which chose to accept federal funds to extend health coverage to more adults through Medicaid, and Missouri, which has rejected federal funds to do the same. Our report shows how a state’s choice to extend health coverage can make a real difference in people’s lives. It also shows that if a state chooses not to extend coverage, that choice is not only a great injustice—it threatens access to care for Americans who need affordable, quality health care.