Beshear says that even if Republicans take over, they won’t be willing or able to reverse his Medicaid expansion

By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear may be succeeded by a Republican next year, and the state legislature may even sooner be controlled by Republicans who have objected to his expansion of Medicaid, but he says they won’t be willing or able to reduce or eliminate the coverage or the subsidies for private insurance under the federal health-reform law.

“We now have 421,000 Kentuckians who are also voters signed up for the law and liking what they are getting,” Beshear told BBC reporter Claire Bolderson. He said Republicans “want to be critical of the president and his
administration, but at the same time they want those 421,000 votes, so they’re not going to take away that coverage from those
folks.”

State Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, “unlike many of his Republican colleagues in Kentucky and Washington . . . is not calling for outright repeal of Obamacare,” the BBC reports, quoting him: “What
we are looking for is a reasonable alternative.”.

“That includes
rolling back the expanded Medicaid coverage and subsidies, and
eliminating all the mandates,” Bolderson reports.

Stivers claimed that “They’ve caused more people to lose their insurance than they helped gain,” but that is not true, even if those who had to get more expensive policies are counted as losing their insurance.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who is expected to enter the Republican primary for governor soon, indicated at a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce forum Tuesday that he expects to pay for Beshear’s expansion of Medicaid if elected.

“We’re going to have to not point the finger. If it’s not repealed in the next year, we’re going to have to pay for it,” he said. If so, he said, eligibility criteria should be tightened and “We need to privatize every service we can possibly privatize” and reduce the state workforce to get the money.

Former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner, who is already in the primary, didn’t address Medicaid in detail but said the state should seek federal waivers to create incentives for healthier behavior by Medicaid recipients. He and Comer both said they did not accept studies cited by Beshear which predicted that expansion of the program would create so many jobs in health care and so much more tax revenue that the expansion would pay for itself.

Attorney General Jack Conway, the only announced Democratic candidate, pulled out of the forum a few days before it. Democrat Adam Edelen, who passed up the governor’s race to run for re-election as auditor, indicated more faith in the studies, saying that in the long term it is better to have people insured than not, to improve the state’s health.

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