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.
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.
After expanding Medicaid, eight states (Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and West Virginia) are expected to achieve budgetary savings and revenue gains exceeding $1.8 billion by the end of 2015, according to a report published yesterday. And that’s even though these states are fairly early into their Medicaid expansion.
States that have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act are seeing major budget savings, according to reports released in the past month. These budget savings coupled with new data linking Medicaid expansion to job growth in the health care sector add to the reasons why the program makes good sense for states.
The second open enrollment period in the health insurance marketplaces is officially closed. But HealthCare.gov and several state marketplaces are still accepting applications for coverage. These include California, Kentucky, New York, and Washington State—the four states participating in our final open enrollment teleconference call yesterday. The directors from these state-based marketplaces explained that the extensions are only for consumers who recently started an application to get health coverage but were not able to finish.
New data reveal that because of Medicaid expansion, Kentucky residents are getting more life-saving screenings and other essential preventive health services, which leads to early diagnoses and higher success rates of treatment. Kentucky has grappled with some of the lowest health rankings in the country (for instance, in 2013, it ranked 50 in cancer deaths and 45 overall). But when the state accepted federal dollars to expand Medicaid to more of its residents, Kentucky began to work toward better health outcomes. In the months since Medicaid expansion, Kentucky has seen significant progress.