FRANKFORT, KY (FOX19) - Gov. Steve Beshear has announced the inclusion of 308,000 more Kentuckians in the federal Medicaid health insurance program.
The expansion, together with the creation of the Health Benefit Exchange, ensures that every Kentuckian will have access to affordable health insurance.
The expansion – made in accordance with the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) – will help hundreds of thousands of Kentucky families and create nearly 17,000 new jobs and have a $15.6 billion positive economic impact on the state between its beginning in Fiscal Year 2014 and full implementation in Fiscal Year 2021, he said.
"I have repeatedly said that I believe it is in the best interest of the Commonwealth and its citizens to provide better access to health care for our people. My only concern was the cost," said Gov. Beshear. "We have now done the exhaustive research – and our conclusion matched what most other states have found: by expanding Medicaid, Kentucky will come out ahead in terms of both health outcomes and finances. In fact, if we don't expand Medicaid, we will lose money."
Medicaid currently provides health care for low-income or disabled citizens. After the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ACA last year, states have the option to expand Medicaid eligibility to individuals who earn up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), with the guarantee that the federal government will cover the entire cost for the first three years.
The expansion will be effective January 1, 2014.
About 640,000 Kentuckians are uninsured. By expanding Medicaid eligibility, an estimated 308,000 Kentuckians will qualify for health care coverage.
Gov. Beshear pointed to Kentucky's dismal rankings in multiple health outcomes as one of the reasons to give lower-income Kentucky families access to reliable, quality health care. In 2012, Kentucky's overall health ranking was 44th. Kentucky is at the bottom of many national health rankings, including 50th in smoking, 40th in obesity, 41st in diabetes, 50th in cancer deaths, 49th in heart disease, 43rd in high cholesterol, 44th in annual dental visits and 48th in heart attacks.
In Kentucky, Medicaid or Kentucky Children's Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) benefits are currently available to:
- Adults if they have disability, serve as the caretaker relative for a child who is eligible for Medicaid and on average has income below 43 percent of (FPL), or are pregnant; and
- Children with family income up to 200 percent of FPL.
Expansion will allow more than 308,000 Kentuckians to access reliable, quality health care. The new threshold of 138 percent of FPL means a single person with no children earning less than $15,856 per year is eligible to sign up for Medicaid. A family of four with an annual income of less than $32,499 is also eligible.
A new state website houses information about the expansion, including the CHFS white paper and letters from supporters. Visitors can also explore county-by-county data such as how many citizens will be newly eligible for Medicaid, or how much county jails spent on medical care last year. Visit http://governor.ky.gov/healthierky to learn more.