DeCesare predicts compromise on Medicaid fix, talks of federal budget balancing

02/22/2011 06:43 PM

Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Rockfield, said he expects the Senate and House to find middle ground on a fix to cover a shortfall in the Medicaid program.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and the House Democrats proposed moving $166 million from the 2012 budget to make up the shortfall. That’s more than the actual gap, but Beshear said it would free up more state funds because it would take advantage of the federal government’s higher match rate that expires at the end of June.

Kentucky could cover the money next year through efficiencies and additional contracts with private health care companies to help provide health care to the more than 800,000 poor and disabled Kentuckians who rely on Medicaid.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have said Beshear’s administration hasn’t lived up to its promise so far to save money on Medicaid. The Republicans want to plug the gap with $100 million.

“They’ll come to some kind of compromise, somewhere between $100 million and $166 million,” said DeCesare, who unsuccessfully offered the $100 million proposal last week as an amendment to the House bill.

DeCesare also talked about the push he has joined to have Kentucky’s General Assembly call for a constitutional convention to take up an amendment requiring the federal government to balance its budget.

“On a federal level, it is incumbent that our federal legislators watch the spending. I mean we have $14 trillion in debt right now … It’s going to affect future generations of Kentuckians and Americans,” he said.

He said that’s necessary even if Kentucky is getting from Washington more than Kentuckians put into the federal tax system. For instance, the federal government spends an average of $11,593 per Kentuckian — more than $1,000 more than the national average, as the Courier-Journal’s James Carroll reported last September.

- Ryan Alessi


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