A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

New data shows rise in number of Kentuckians with health insurance coverage thanks to ACA

Newly-released U.S. Census data shows Kentucky continued its historic progress in reducing the share of residents without health insurance coverage in 2016, down to only 5.1 percent compared to 6.0 percent in 2015 – a statistically significant drop over the past year.

The new American Community Survey data (ACS) shows Kentucky has also experienced a statistically significant 9.2 percentage point drop in the uninsured rate since Kentucky created Kynect and expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act in 2013 (when the uninsured rate was 14.3 percent). In fact, Kentucky is one of only 4 states that have seen a decline in the uninsured rate of more than 9 percentage points since 2013, and we lead the nation for the percent decrease in the number of people without coverage (-63.8 percent).

“It’s clear beyond a shadow of a doubt the Affordable Care Act is working. It has helped Kentuckians get the care they need to improve their health, work and take care of their families. It has created jobs in our state and kept many more Kentuckians from being an illness or accident away from financial ruin,” Kenny Colston, communications director for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said.

But recent and pending changes at the state level and attempts to repeal and sabotage the ACA at the federal level threaten the important health coverage gains Kentucky has made.

• Fewer Kentuckians signed up on the federal exchange after the shuttering of Kynect and after reductions in federal spending on marketing health insurance exchanges, meaning our coverage gains could have been even larger if not thwarted.

• Proposed changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion through Gov. Matt Bevin’s pending 1115 waiver would result in nearly 100,000 fewer people being covered by Medicaid.

• Federal attempts to repeal the ACA, replace it with weaker laws, and destabilize the marketplace by denying cost-sharing payments and reducing resources for consumer assistance all threaten coverage in Kentucky.

Though several federal efforts to take coverage from hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians and give tax breaks to the wealthy have been rejected, there are more big threats on the horizon. The Cassidy-Graham repeal and replace bill, as well as recent federal budget proposals, all pose deep cuts to traditional and expanded Medicaid.

“Our elected officials – in Frankfort and Washington D.C. – need to build on our historic gains in health rather than roll them back through the kinds of harmful changes that have been proposed over the past year,” Colston said.

Kentucky Center for Economic Policy

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