Senator Mitch McConnell Questions Governor’s Decision to Expand Medicaid

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell questioned Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear’s long-awaited decision to expand Medicaid coverage under the president’s health care law, arguing it will expose Kentuckians to increasing costs.

As Kentucky Public Radio’s Kenny Colston reports, Beshear, a Democrat, announced the state’s Medicaid program will extend coverage to over 300,000 Kentuckians under the Affordable Care Act or what opponents calls Obamacare.

This means the state’s Medicaid rolls will extend to more low-income and poor people who are below 138 percent of the federal poverty line.

The governor called it the right thing to do, and the decision was praised by fellow Democrats and health advocacy groups.

However, Kentucky’s senior senator warned the extension will be costly for residents and hurt small businesses.

“Given Kentucky’s struggles to finance its current Medicaid program and the uncertainty of future federal funding, I am surprised the governor would make this decision to further implement Obamacare and expose the commonwealth’s taxpayers to more open ended expenses they cannot afford,” McConnell said in a statement.

“Additionally, in my travels across Kentucky I have talked to a number of health care professionals who are concerned that a dramatic expansion of Medicaid enrollment would obviously exacerbate the already serious access-to-care problems we face in Kentucky.”

Right now, Kentucky’s Medicaid program costs about $6 billion.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2013/04/15/2601861/beshear-says-kentucky-hospitals.html#storylink=cpy

The governor countered McConnell’s argument during a press conference, citing a study that shows President Obama’s health care law will actually bring $800 million to the state.

Currently, the federal government pays 70 percent of Medicaid costs and the state is responsible for the remaining 30 percent. When this provision begins, the Affordable Care Act will pick up 100 percent of the cost for the first three years.

But critics point to analysis which shows over time Kentucky’s tab will increase while assuming increased revenue and other funds to cover rising health care costs.

Speaking on the Senate floor this week, McConnell, who still advocates for repealing the law, says the president needs to be more forthcoming with the law’s drawbacks.

“It’s about time he did, and he should use that event to do so,” he says. “Because he needs to be straight with the American people. He needs to prepare them for everything that’s coming – the wage cuts, the lost jobs, the higher premiums. Everything our country can expect as a result of Obamacare.”

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