Beshear looks likely to announce that he will expand Medicaid

Gov. Steve Beshear appears likely to announce tomorrow that he will expand Kentucky’s Medicaid program to people in households with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, under federal health-care reform.

The notice of the governor’s news conference about “Decision regarding Medicaid expansion” says it will be held in the ornate State Reception Room on the second floor of the state Capitol, an unlikely venue for an announcement that would disappoint so many of his natural allies in the Democratic Party. And Rep. Tom Burch, D-Louisville, chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee, reiterated his February prediction that Beshear would expand Medicaid, cn|2 reports.

Under health reform, the federal government would pay all the cost of the estimated 400,000 newly eligible Kentuckians in Medicaid in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The state would pay 3 percent of the added cost in 2017, rising to 10 percent in 2020. Beshear has said the state should expand Medicaid if it can afford it.

Some Republicans have said the state can’t afford it, but national research has estimated that the state’s cost for Medicaid would increase only 5 to 6 percent over the amount it would pay if the program were not expanded. The federal government now pays more than 70 percent of the program’s cost in Kentucky.

More background on Mediaid in Kentucky is available from a PowerPoint presentation that Deputy Medicaid Commissioner Lisa Lee gave yesterday at a meeting sponsored by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the Kentucky Rural Health Association. It can be downloaded here.

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