Bevin administration not estimating GOP health bill’s impact


By Adam Beam - Associated Press



FRANKFORT (AP) — Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration says it will not calculate how the proposed GOP health care plan will impact Kentucky, a state where more than 400,000 people got health insurance through an expanded Medicaid program under a previous Democratic governor.

Congressional Republicans released their plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law last week. On Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the bill would cause 14 million Americans to lose health coverage next year, a number that would grow to 24 million by 2026. The estimate did not include an analysis of how the law would impact each state.

“Given the continually evolving nature of this legislation, a prediction of potential impact for the Commonwealth cannot be completed with any degree of certainty,” said Doug Hogan, spokesman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which operates the state’s Medicaid program.

Hogan quoted from the CBO report, which noted “the ways in which federal agencies, states, insurers, employers, individuals, doctors, hospitals, and other affected parties would respond to the changes made by the (AHCA) are all difficult to predict, so the (CBO) estimates are uncertain.”

That has not stopped governors in other states from releasing projections of how the law would impact their states. In Montana, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s office estimated the GOP plan would cost the state $126 million and cause 34,000 people to lose Medicaid coverage over the next decade. In Oklahoma, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin’s administration predicted the state would immediately lose $9.3 million in public health funding.

Other Kentucky-based advocacy groups worry the GOP health plan would “effectively eliminate Medicaid expansion” for the more than 400,000 Kentuckians who are covered by it, according to Dustin Pugel, a research and policy associate for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. He noted the plan calls for the federal government to pay for 70 percent of the expanded Medicaid population instead of 90 percent. That would cost the state an extra $712 million, according to an estimate from the Center on Budget Policy Priorities.

“It’s incredibly unlikely that Kentucky would be willing to pick up that tab,” he said.

Bevin has proposed changes to the state’s expanded Medicaid program, including charging people premiums of up to $15 a month and requiring them to work or volunteer in order to maintain coverage. State officials estimate that plan, if approved by the federal government, would cause 86,000 people to lose Medicaid coverage by 2021.

Bevin has called the Affordable Care Act an “unmitigated disaster” in Kentucky, citing higher premiums for consumers and increases costs for taxpayers. The law slashed the number uninsured people in Kentucky from more than 20 percent to 7.5 percent, among the largest coverage gains in the country. But Bevin argues having insurance does not make people healthier.

“Of course there is going to be disruption when there is a major change. But people have been begging for it,” Bevin told Cincinnati radio station WKRC this week. “So I’m not concerned about the fact that there will be a shift of who is covered by what.”

By Adam Beam

Associated Press

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