Gov. orders Medicaid expansion

-A A +A

More than 1,000 Henry residents eligible for Medicaid under expansion

By Brad Bowman

Thousands of Henry Countians will have access to health coverage beginning in 2014, when the Commonwealth expands Medicaid as directed by Governor Steve Behsear.

Beshear announced last week that he would expand the Medicaid health program for 308,000 Kentuckians in concert with the Affordable Care Act. The expansion will create an estimated 17,000 new jobs, $15.6 billion positive economic impact on the state.

The governor said in a press release that the expansion will not only improve the state’s poor health ranking, but prevent the state from losing money.  

“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,” Beshear said.  “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.”

In the report, Kentuckians ranked 44th in overall health in 2012, 50th in smoking, 40th in obesity, 50th in cancer deaths, 49th in heart disease, 41st in diabetes, 49th in heart disease, 44th in annual dental visits and 48th for heart attacks.

Studies conducted by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services included contracted research from The Urban Studies Institute at University of Louisville and the Price Waterhouse Coopers account and actuarial firm determined the expansion would benefit families who needed health care services and the Kentucky taxpayer.

County statistics

According to the cabinet’s report, Henry County currently has 2,505 uninsured residents.

The report states that when the Affordable Care Act fully implements in January 2014 with the Medicaid expansion, 1,129 of Henry County residents will have access to financial assisted insurance from the Health Benefits Exchange and an additional 1,170 will qualify for Medicaid.

The population under 65 in Henry County accounts for 80.9 percent of the county residents at 13,089. Of those residents, 10,584 are insured. Henry County residents eligible for insurance through the Health Benefits Exchange without assistance will total 206.

In 2012, 2,159 Henry County children received Medicaid services costing $5,958,809, compared to 1,290 adults costing $12,766,975.

Reimbursement totalling $7,432,062 were paid to 28 providers accepting Medicaid in Henry County in 2012.

Henry County prisoners will have hospitalization costs picked up by Medicaid after the expansion. Since 2007, the Henry County jail spent $63,700 on its inmates’ medical and dental expenses.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s uphelad the Affordable Health Care Act, states possess the option to expand Medicaid to individuals who earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Residents who earn 400 percent more than the poverty level may purchase insurance through the Health Benefits Exchange— a state run health insurance marketplace. Residents whose income lies between the two thresholds can receive premium subsidies purchased through the exchange.

A single person earning less than $15,856 per year and a family of four with an annual income of less than $32,499 qualify for Medicaid.

Projected savings

Businesses with employees earning at the 100 percent and 138 percent federal poverty level will not be accountable for the $3,000 per employee penalty if their employees received a premium insurance subsidy, according to the cabinet’s research. The projected penalties would cost $32- to $48-million for Kentucky employers per year.

Hospitals use federal disproportionate share hospital payments from the federal government to cover the cost of treating uninsured and low-income patients. Those payments will be reduced in Kentucky to an estimated $287.5 million through fiscal year 2021 compared to $690,962,117 payments since 2010. The Medicaid expansion will reimburse hospitals for their care or hospital budgets would suffer after a reduction in federal disproportionate share payments.

According to research from the Price Waterhouse Coopers account and actuarial firm, the Medicaid expansion is expected to increase $608 million in health care spending and create 7,600 new jobs from that spending,  By 2021, the cabinets research predicts the expansion will employ 17,000 state residents with average annual salary of more than $43,000. If Kentucky did not expand Medicaid, analysts estimated a $40 million negative impact to the state budget.