Report Warns About Impact of Bevin’s Proposed Medicaid Changes

Kentucky’s Higher Education Budget Cuts Remain Among Highest in the Country

Higher Education Funding Cuts Push Kentucky Down National Rankings

Kentucky Has One of the Worst-Funded Higher Ed Systems in the Country

Continued Higher Education Cuts Place Kentucky Among Worst in Country

Kentucky is continuing its tumble to the bottom as one of the worst states in funding cuts to higher education, a new report from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities shows.  Kentucky ranks 6th-worst among states in percentage cuts to higher education since 2008 and is in the bottom 10 among states in other funding categories, according to the report. This disinvestment once again threatens to limit students’ access to higher education, as well as our state’s opportunities for economic growth.

While most states have begun to restore higher education funding after cutting during the recession, Kentucky continues to cut, including with last-minute cuts for 2016 by Gov. Matt Bevin and with additional cuts coming in July when the new fiscal year begins — all together a 4.5 percent cut. These continued cuts make it harder for students to afford college and for the state to invest in our communities and grow jobs and businesses.

“As Kentucky continues to cut, we start reversing all the gains made by past education improvements,” Ashley Spalding, research and policy associate at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said said. “We are sliding backwards, when what we should be doing is investing in our education institutions, which in turn is investment in our communities. We should follow the lead of the majority of states and start increasing funding for higher education again, instead of balancing our state budgets on the backs of students.”

Some “lowlights” of Kentucky in the report:

  • Since the recession, Kentucky has cut higher education funding 32 percent, one of 8 states to cut more than 30 percent since 2008. Kentucky’s ranking of 6th-worst among states in percentage cut since 2008 is a fall from 11th-worst in last year’s report.
  • Kentucky is one of 11 states that are continuing to cut higher education in the current year, in contrast to 37 states that are increasing funding. Five states actually increased per student funding by more than 10 percent this year.
  • Kentucky is one of three states that has cut funding for the past two years joining Vermont and Arkansas.

In order to stop Kentucky’s higher education funding slide, lawmakers should clean up the tax code by ending some of the billions of dollars in tax breaks that drain revenue so we have the resources to better invest, Spalding said.

For the average student, federal and state aid has not kept pace with rising costs, the report found.

“More young people could afford college and gain for themselves and the economy the benefits of greater earnings if states reversed their declining support for higher education,” said Michael Mitchell, senior policy analyst at CBPP and lead author of the report.

You can view the report here.

Statement on New Overtime Threshold Rule’s Impact on Kentucky

“The new overtime rule is great news for the 1 in 4 salaried workers in Kentucky who will now be entitled to overtime pay,” Anna Baumann, research and policy analyst at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said. “This new rule will benefit Kentucky women, families and workers of color who have watched their wage protections erode over time. The new rule, combined with minimum wage increases in Louisville and Lexington, mean more low- and middle-wage Kentucky workers will be better paid for the work they do.”

A Fourth of Kentucky’s Salaried Workforce Will Benefit Under Increase to Overtime Threshold

An estimated 149,000 salaried Kentucky workers will become entitled to overtime protections under President Obama’s increase to the overtime salary threshold announced today, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Over the years, this threshold has eroded, and the change will mean protections from unpaid hours for many low salary workers, an increase in jobs as employers must rely less on unpaid labor and salary boosts for some workers.

Forty years ago, 60 percent of salaried workers were protected by the overtime rule, but failure to update the threshold means that now only 8 percent receive protections. Until today’s change, an employee making only $23,660 a year could be classified as an executive, administrator or professional staff person and be denied overtime even though their salary falls under the federal poverty line for a family of four.

A part of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the overtime threshold is meant to provide workers protections against being paid too little for too much work. President Obama’s rule change raises it to $47,476, impacting an estimated 12.5 million salaried workers nationwide who fall between the previous and new threshold.

EPI breaks down those who would benefit by state and also by demographics: women make up slightly more than half of all workers directly impacted. Because they also make up a disproportional share of the low-wage salaried workforce nationwide, young, less-educated, black and Hispanic workers would especially benefit.

More than a third of those who would become entitled to overtime pay under the increase are parents, bringing up the total number of kids covered by the threshold from 3 to 10.3 million nationwide. More parents who work long hours will be compensated fairly for that work, which is also good for the economy since families are likely to spend every new dollar earned meeting basic needs and increasing their quality of life.

In the case that employers decide to hire new employees instead of demanding and paying for overtime from existing employees, more jobs will be created. Also, some workers who make close to the new threshold will likely receive a pay increase as employers seek to avoid paying overtime workers are newly eligible to receive.

By industry, workers in agriculture, leisure and hospitality and other services, construction and public administration would especially benefit from the new threshold. The 149,000 Kentucky workers who will become entitled to overtime comprise 25.1 percent of the state’s total salaried workforce – a full fourth of that group. Nationally, 23.3 percent of the salaried workforce will be newly entitled to time-and-a-half pay.

New Report Warns Against Harmful Changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid Expansion

A new report by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy provides an in-depth look at Medicaid in Kentucky, the benefits of Medicaid expansion and potential harmful impacts of changes that could create barriers to coverage and care.

The report was prepared in expectation of a proposal from Gov. Bevin to apply for a Medicaid waiver that might involve additional costs to recipients, benefit changes or other provisions.

The report highlights several key facts and points, including:

  • Medicaid is key to the health of Kentuckians for its role in covering many children, working adults, veterans, senior adults and the disabled. With Medicaid expansion, the program’s positive benefits are growing including a significant increase in health screenings, budgetary savings and a recent uptick in job growth in the health care sector.
  • The benefit package offered in Kentucky’s Medicaid program is reasonable and very similar to other states: most all of the services covered in Kentucky are also covered in least 40 other states or territories. And many other states offer important benefits not currently offered in Kentucky.
  • Some waiver ideas put forward by other states have the potential of impeding access to needed care, including premiums, lockout periods and elimination of certain benefits. Certain ideas introduce new administrative expenses that could end up costing the state more than any new revenue or savings generated. Also, there is a long list of state waiver requests the federal government has consistently rejected including: high premiums, benefit-reduction requests, work requirements and partial expansions.

Kentucky is in a unique situation among states because it has already expanded Medicaid while other states used a waiver-based approach in the decision to expand. By law, Kentucky cannot make changes designed simply to save money relative to the current program. Changes must meet the law’s goals of increasing coverage, expanding the provider network, improving health outcomes and/or improving the efficiency and quality of care.

The report concludes with recommendations that include active public participation in the process of developing a proposal, transparency, independent assessment of any changes and a focus on long-term benefits to the health of Kentuckians.

“No matter how you look at Medicaid expansion in Kentucky, it’s clear it has had a positive effect on access to health care that will improve our state’s economy and quality of life,” Jason Bailey, executive director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said. “Any potential changes to the program need to improve Kentuckians’ ability to get the care they need, not move us backward. We hope a public dialogue on this issue leads to continued progress on making Kentuckians healthier and more financially secure.”

Protecting Medicaid’s Role in Advancing a Healthy Kentucky

To view this report in PDF form, click here.

A new report by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy provides an in-depth look at Medicaid in Kentucky, the benefits of Medicaid expansion and potential harmful impacts of changes that could create barriers to coverage and care.

The report was prepared in expectation of a proposal from Gov. Bevin to apply for a Medicaid waiver that might involve additional costs to recipients, benefit changes or other provisions.

The report highlights several key facts and points, including:

  • Medicaid is key to the health of Kentuckians for its role in covering many children, working adults, veterans, senior adults and the disabled. With Medicaid expansion, the program’s positive benefits are growing including a significant increase in health screenings, budgetary savings and a recent uptick in job growth in the health care sector.
  • The benefit package offered in Kentucky’s Medicaid program is reasonable and very similar to other states: most all of the services covered in Kentucky are also covered in least 40 other states or territories. And many other states offer important benefits not currently offered in Kentucky.
  • Some waiver ideas put forward by other states have the potential of impeding access to needed care, including premiums, lockout periods and elimination of certain benefits. Certain ideas introduce new administrative expenses that could end up costing the state more than any new revenue or savings generated. Also, there is a long list of state waiver requests the federal government has consistently rejected including: high premiums, benefit-reduction requests, work requirements and partial expansions.

Kentucky is in a unique situation among states because it has already expanded Medicaid while other states used a waiver-based approach in the decision to expand. By law, Kentucky cannot make changes designed simply to save money relative to the current program. Changes must meet the law’s goals of increasing coverage, expanding the provider network, improving health outcomes and/or improving the efficiency and quality of care.

The report concludes with recommendations that include active public participation in the process of developing a proposal, transparency, independent assessment of any changes and a focus on long-term benefits to the health of Kentuckians.

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