Kentucky Medicaid program facing budget shortfall

08/30/2018 11:30 PM

FRANKFORT-The state’s Medicaid system is facing a $300 million dollar shortfall in the next biennium.

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services says they are considering eliminating Medicaid expansion as a way to cut costs.

Currently, the expansion covers more than 400,000 people. Former Gov. Steve Beshear expanded the Medicaid program in 2014. But current Gov. Matt Bevin is against the expansion because he says its costs too much money.

Members from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services testified in front of the Budget Review Subcommittee for Human Resources Thursday providing an update on the 2018 fiscal year budget and the outlook for 2019.

Secretary Adam Meier says everything is on the table including reducing benefits and eligibility for Medicaid in order to deal with the shortfall.

“I think all option have to be on the table we have to evaluate further into the biennium.” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Adam Meier.

The $11.5 billion Medicaid budget is mostly funded through the federal government—making the potential for a budget shortfall more dire.

“$300 million is a very significant state general fund number. We have to distinguish that between what is predominately a federally funded program,” he said. “We have to work within the allocations that we have and $300 million is not an easy general fund dollar to create savings in.”

Meier also said eliminating dental and vision coverage or pharmacy benefits are all on the table.

“It’s anything we would want to do but we also have a constitutional obligation to come in under budget. Unlike the federal government we can’t just print more money. We can’t run a deficit,” he said. “We’ll work closely with the legislature before making any large actions like that but if we continue to be hundreds of million dollar short we need to find some way to pay for it.”

Gov. Bevin has said in the past he would do away with Medicaid expansion if the Medicaid 1115 waiver is blocked. A judge in June blocked the implementation of Kentucky HEALTH—causing the administration to take away dental and vision coverage—but after outrage they quickly restored the benefits.

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at



  • Tom Coe wrote on August 31, 2018 04:49 PM :

    What is causing the budget shortfall for the Medicaid program? Is there a legitimate reason for the shortfall or is this another case of Bevin fabricating a “crisis” that only he can deal with?

  • Ben Thar wrote on September 01, 2018 12:35 PM :

    Lyin’ Andy Barr and the rest of the “conservative” clowns in this ridiculous Congress have just given us the biggest national debt in history — $21 trillion.

    Like Trump, Barr is one of the low-life swamp critters who promised balanced budgets and lower debt — Barr and Trump lied to get elected.

    Barr and Trump keep on lying every day because they think Republicans are stupid and will forget about “fiscal responsibility” and “balancing the budget”.

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