In wake of ruling, governor says health exchange in progress, Medicaid expansion uncertain

07/02/2012 08:53 AM

Gov. Steve Beshear said Kentucky is prepared to launch a health exchange by Jan. 1, 2013, as prescribed in part of the Affordable Care Act, but another part calling for the expansion of Medicaid is more uncertain.

Beshear told reporters Friday in Northern Kentucky that the state has been working to set up a health exchange and has taken federal grant money to do it. Kentucky currently is accepting bids for an outside company to manage the exchange.

The Affordable Care Act, which was upheld by the Supreme Court last week, calls for states to have health exchanges for individuals who don’t have health insurance through their jobs but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, the federal-state program that covers health care for the poor and disabled.

The exchanges are meant to match up individuals with insurers. The federal government will step in to run the exchanges for states that don’t set up their own.

Another part of the 2010 health care law requires states to expand the Medicaid program to cover individuals who make up to 133 percent of the federal poverty rate.

In Kentucky, that would add about 320,000 to the already 800,000 enrollees in the program starting 2014.

While the federal government will cover the cost of the new enrollees at the beginning, eventually states will have to cover a portion of the costs. And Beshear said that’s his biggest concern.

Overall, though, Beshear said he believes the law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it means that Kentuckians ultimately will be healthier.

- Video produced by Don Weber

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