About 290,000 more Kentuckians would be eligible for Medicaid if state expands program, Urban Institute study finds

About 289,000 more people in Kentucky would be able to get health insurance if the state opts to expand its Medicaid program up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, as authorized by federal health-care reform, a new report from the Urban Institute has found. Just how many more Kentuckians would be affected by the possible expansion had previously been uncertain, with varying estimates.

Of those eligible, 56,000 are parents and 232,000 are adults who don’t have dependent children, the report found. Those who are between the ages of 35 and 54 have the most to gain in the state, with 78,000 newly eligible Kentuckians falling into that age bracket. The report, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says about 15 million more people nationwide could get health insurance under Medicaid expansion.

Gov. Steve Beshear has said he will expend the program if the state can afford it, and is studying how much it would cost. The federal government will pay all the costs for the new eligibles at the through 2016, but by 2020, states will be responsible for 10 percent of those costs. For current eligibles, the state pays and would continue to pay about 30 percent.

Though much of the discussion on expansion is based on whether states can afford it, “Exclusively monetary calculations ignore the potential human, financial and productivity benefits associated with improved access to affordable health care for the millions of low-income adults who lack health insurance coverage and their families,” the study’s authors conclude. (Read more)

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