Kentucky Expanding Medicaid Under Affordable Care Act, Gov. Steve Beshear Says

It’s been a longtime, lingering question—will Gov. Steve Beshear expand Kentucky’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare)?

On Thursday afternoon, Beshear answered: Yes, Kentucky will.

The decision means that Kentucky will expand its Medicaid rolls to 138 percent of the federal poverty line with the federal government paying for it for three years. After 2017, the federal government’s share of the cost drops to 90 percent and Kentucky picks up the rest.

The move adds 308,000 to the Medicaid insurance program, according to a state news release.

For months, Beshear has been considering the issue and calculating the costs to the state after 2017. 

States throughout the U.S. appear split on whether to accept the expansion.

Kentucky Public Radio’s Kenny Colston is covering the governor’s announcement. We’ll update when more information becomes available.

Update: Here’s from a news release:

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Calling it “the single-most important decision in our lifetime for improving the health of Kentuckians,” Gov. Steve Beshear today 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, will ensure 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, dramatically improve the state’s health, 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.”

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