KY Policy Blog

House Should Vote to Keep Kynect and Protect Medicaid Expansion from Harmful Changes

By Jason Bailey
March 20, 2016

The House has the opportunity this week to pass House bills 5 and 6 and vote to maintain Kentucky’s momentum for better health and a stronger economy.

House Bill 5 would keep Kynect, the state’s nationally-recognized system for getting people the health coverage they are eligible to receive, a program that has led to the best coverage gains in the country. House Bill 6 would protect Medicaid expansion from harmful changes, like those being pursued in Indiana, that threaten to reduce access to coverage and care for many.

Here are some of KCEP’s resources for understanding the critical issues these bills address:

It’s Kentucky’s Lack of Coverage and Poor Health that Are Unsustainable, Not Medicaid
While the administration claims that Kentucky’s Medicaid program is “unsustainable,” in fact Medicaid is a big benefit to Kentucky as it fills critical coverage gaps, improves health, injects dollars into communities and saves money in the budget previously spent on the uninsured.

With Medicaid Expansion, Kentucky Health Care Job Growth Picked up in 2015
After modest growth in health care and social assistance jobs during the first year of Medicaid expansion, growth picked up at a rapid pace in 2015 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The billions of additional federal dollars coming in to the state to provide care for the newly insured likely played a role.

Unanswered Questions about the Cost and Feasibility of Shutting Down Kynect
The governor has notified the federal government that he intends to shut down Kynect and shift Kentucky to the federal health insurance exchange for the next open enrollment period that starts this November. In addition to potential harm to Kentuckians, including higher premiums and fewer people covered, big questions persist about the cost and feasibility of making this transition.

Many Kentucky Workers Have Gained Health Insurance through the Medicaid Expansion, Are at Risk If Program Is Scaled Back
Many thousands of Kentuckians who work low wage jobs at restaurants, on construction sites, through temp agencies and at retail stores are among those who have gained health insurance because of Kentucky’s decision to expand Medicaid. These workers’ access to care is at risk if Kentucky takes steps backward on the expansion, potentially harming our economy and the health of our state.

A County-by-County Look at the Medicaid Expansion
A total of 425,782 Kentuckians were insured through the Medicaid expansion as of October 2015. By county, between 3.7 and 19.1 percent of the population were covered and a total of $2.7 billion from the Medicaid expansion flowed to providers. Especially benefitting is rural Kentucky.

8 Reasons Kentucky Shouldn’t DisKynect
Kynect, the state’s health insurance marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act, is widely viewed as a national model for its functionality and success in getting people signed up for health coverage. Reasons to keep Kynect include: 1) it works really well; 2) it was built with the input of a wide range of stakeholders and tailored to Kentucky’s needs; 3) it costs money to shut it down; 4) transition will be disruptive; 5) the federal exchange will lack the effective outreach efforts Kynect has built; 6) transition will cost Kentucky jobs; 7) it’s unclear what insurance choices Kentuckians will have; and 8) lower enrollment will cost Kentucky more in uncompensated care.

Indiana Approach to Medicaid Expansion Limits Access to Needed Care
The “Indiana model” for Medicaid expansion has been held up as a possible alternative for Kentucky, with supporters arguing that Medicaid recipients should have more “skin in the game” by paying premiums for services. However, such an approach could mean fewer people getting the care they need — making health problems costlier down the road and creating barriers to sustaining the health coverage gains Kentucky has made in recent years.

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