In his inaugural address Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear addressed two of the core issues he campaigned on: health care insurance and the cost of drugs.
“These are our brothers and our sisters; after the expansion, these neighbors could go see a doctor without the fear of bankruptcy. And the expansion ensured that almost all of Kentucky’s children had access to health care,” Beshear said. “I will honor and strengthen our commitment to these families.”
Beshear’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, expanded Medicaid in 2014 to adults without children and to people making up to 138 percent of the poverty limit, or about 400,000 people.
Beshear didn’t mention rolling back the signature policy of former Gov. Matt Bevin, which is tied up in courts; the Medicaid reforms would have required some enrollees work or volunteer to keep coverage and others would be required to make payments.
But shortly after winning the election, Beshear said he would revoke Kentucky’s application for those changes in the first week of office.
Another key health issue: drug prices. Prescription drug costs have soared in recent years, leading patients to ration drugs and buy abroad or illegally online. Beshear said he’ll start with addressing the cost of insulin. Other states have passed laws mandating pharmaceutical companies share details on price increases in costs in efforts to hold down those increases.
“I will fight to lower the cost of prescription drugs, and will start with insulin,” Beshear said. “Because health care should not be a partisan issue: health care is a Kentucky issue.”
He also addressed a key issue that was the subject of Congressional efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2018: preexisting conditions.
Under the ACA, health plans can no longer deny coverage to people with an existing health condition, as was common before. Though those Congressional efforts stalled and never came to fruition, Beshear made it a top campaign priority, and he brought it up again in his inauguration speech.
“I will do everything in my power to ensure Kentuckians with preexisting conditions never lose their coverage,” Beshear said.
Beshear also touched on food insecurity, saying that Kentucky is 47th in the country in per capita income.
“Too many of our families live in poverty; 22 percent of our children live in poverty,” Beshear said. “This means one quarter of our kids are never certain about their next meal or whether they’ll have a roof over their heads.”
He said he would address this by releasing a comprehensive economic plan to create better-paying jobs for adults, which might include jobs in agritech.
“We owe it to our children,” Beshear said.
Beshear also announced his first two executive orders: the first disbanded and reconstituted the state Board of Education; that move quickly prompted a lawsuit. The second appointed Col. Haldane Lamberton of Louisville as the Adjutant General of Kentucky.