Thursday, May 09, 2013

Ky. governor expands Medicaid, says other states' rejections are 'based mainly on partisan politics'

The Democratic governor of Kentucky, a state with many rural people, some of the nation's worst health and little love for President Obama, announced today that he would expand the state's Medicaid program with money from the president's health-care reform.

Beshear with graphs showing positive impact on state budget
"Today we change the course of Kentucky's history," Steve Beshear said as he began a state Capitol press conference. He said the expansion, along with health insurance and subsidies available through a state-run exchange, would give the state a healthier workforce, more money for its health-care providers, more jobs in health care, improved health status and a better image. "Expanding Medicaid will help create a stronger Kentucky," he said.

Beshear said Kentucky is the 21st state to expand Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Asked why more governors have not, he said that was "based mainly on partisan politics." Earlier, anticipating Republican criticism, he said some critics "express broad and vague anxieties . . . . fall back on national politics" and say expansion supports "Obamacare. To them I say, 'Get over it.'" Obama lost Kentucky by wide margins in both elections.

There is little that Kentucky Republicans can do to stop the expansion. They control the state Senate, but Medicaid eligibility and benefit decisions belong to the executive branch, and even if a bipartisan legislative committee were to block the implementing regulations, Beshear could override it. For details and background from the governor's office, click here. For a news analysis by the undersigned, go here.

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