Studies show Kentucky would be among biggest losers under current version of health care bill

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Few states would lose more of their federal health-care spending than Kentucky if the current version of the bill being pushed by Sen. Mitch McConnell became law, according to studies surveyed by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“The left-leaning Center for American Progress estimated 231,400 fewer Kentuckians would have insurance in 2026 under the bill,” reporter Bill Estep writes. “The non-partisan Urban Institute projected an even bigger impact: 541,000 more non-elderly Kentuckians without insurance in 2022 under the Senate bill than under the ACA, the law now in place that is commonly called Obamacare. That would push the number of uninsured people in Kentucky from 6.3 percent of the population to 21 percent, the study said. A cut in federal funding for Medicaid would be the key driver of that increase.”

The projected drop in Kentucky Medicaid spending would be the largest of any state, because the expansion of the program under Obamacare gave Kentucky one of the biggest increases in Medicaid enrollment. The study estimated that enrollment, including the related Kentucky Children’s Insurance Program, would fall by more than half.

That concerns Ben Chandler, president of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which commissioned a study that showed expansion brought “increases in the number of people with a regular source of care, fewer people putting off needed care because of the cost, and a big decline in people who said they had trouble paying for medical care,” Estep reports. “The law also has brought in money for medical providers, and holds the potential to cut health costs in the long run by getting people into preventive care and heading off problems that are expensive to treat, Chandler said.”

“Medicaid expansion has been valuable for Kentucky in several ways,” Chandler told Estep. “Our position is simple: the more people covered, the better.”

Estep notes: “Critics, though, argue that spending under Obamacare has added to the federal deficit and is unsustainable,” and that when it comes to private insurance, “The law has driven up premiums and caused insurance companies to pull out of markets, leaving people with little choice of carriers.” That has happened in Kentucky. McConnell “said in a Senate speech that Obamacare has caused premiums to increase by an average of 105 percent in most states in the federal exchange, and that more increases are projected.”

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“Insurance premiums won’t necessarily decline, though, if the Senate bill becomes law,” Estep writes.

“An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation projected a 74 percent increase in the cost of the average monthly premium, after tax credits, for the benchmark insurance plan available through marketplace exchanges under the Senate bill. That was a nationwide number. The study said most people who bought insurance through the exchanges would pay more.”

From Kentucky Health News

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