Local News

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul law, known as the Affordable Care Act, could extend Medicaid to 300,000 more Kentuckians if the state decides to accept the terms laid out in the law.

The court ruled the federal government cannot withhold Medicaid funds to states that choose not to implement rules under the ACA, but if states choose to increase the poverty level for eligibility to 133 percent, the federal government will support them.

Kevin Russell from scotusblog.com explains:

The Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion is divided and complicated.  The bottom line is that: (1) Congress acted constitutionally in offering states funds to expand coverage to millions of new individuals; (2) So states can agree to expand coverage in exchange for those new funds; (3) If the state accepts the expansion funds, it must obey by the new rules and expand coverage; (4) but a state can refuse to participate in the expansion without losing all of its Medicaid funds; instead the state will have the option of continue the its current, unexpanded plan as is.

Jodi Mitchell is executive director of the advocacy group Kentucky Voices for Health. She says the court’s decision sets up the discussion for whether states want to participate and if Kentucky decides to extend Medicaid benefits, it’ll first need to work out kinks in its privatized Medicaid managed care system.  

“We’ve had several problems with implementation of managed care and we would like to see those problems fixed before many more lives go into the system,” she said.

WFPL has reported on the issues that have troubled the new Medicaid system which began last November. Among them are network adequacy, provider payment issues and provider shortage.

Kentucky child advocacy professionals also say several provisions target commonwealth-specific issues.

The most widely discussed issue regarding young people in the ACA law is the provision saying young adults under 26-years-old can remain on their parent’s health insurance.

Several insurance companies have already begun implementing this provision.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said there are several other provisions that should help young Kentuckians, like those aging out of foster care that lose Medicaid.

“When you talk to kids who have been involved in that process they talk about medical care as being a crisis as they move out. Well, ACA very quietly extends coverage for foster care children to age 25 under Medicaid,”   said Brooks.

Last year around 750 Kentucky youth aged out of the foster care system, according to KYA data. Brooks said other provisions like requiring insurers to offer dental care to children will also benefit Kentucky youth.

The ACA is scheduled for full implementation in 2012.