Politics
9:00 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Kentucky's Medicaid Expansion Is Nearly Complete

Credit Phalinn Ooi/Creative Commons

FRANKFORT — Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act is almost complete.

Lawrence Kissner, commissioner for Kentucky’s Department of Medicaid Services, told lawmakers Thursday his department is on track to fully implement the expansion, and enrollee health outcomes are improving under the new federal health care law.

“Adult preventive services increases 36.7 percent; breast cancer increases 20.6 percent; cervical cancer screenings increased 3 percent; and colorectal cancer screenings increased 16 percent," Kissner said.

"So we still are seeing some positive movement in the basic preventative health care demographics.”

Citing data from independent studies conducted by the University of Louisville and Price Waterhouse Cooper, Kissner said Kentucky will see a revenue increase of over $800 million by 2021 because of its Medicaid expansion.

But state lawmakers were critical of the federal Affordable Care Act, regardless of their party affiliation.

Republican Sen. David Givens of Greensburg echoed the spirit of many of his colleagues’ concerns with the law over how the state can make money off of its investment into Medicaid expansion, which will start in the next couple of years at a reduced rate.

“From a financial stewardship perspective, how does the state Medicaid program benefit as we see, what is the process for us to see financial benefit from improved health outcomes from the people we cover?” Givens said.

Kissner said the biggest return on investment occurs when people’s health improves.

“Health care is not a zero-sum game," Kissner said. "Building a healthier population results in more time at work, more efficient at work, maybe more head in the game at work … we need some Ph.D.-types, but they can be determined to say, ‘We believe this is a return on that investment; that’s a positive return for the state of Kentucky.’”

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported last year that the healthcare sector will provide the biggest source of job growth for the next decade.