Lawmakers express concern over number of Medicaid recipients in the state

01/18/2017 02:20 PM

FRANKFORT – Some members of the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare expressed concerns on Wednesday that the biggest problem with Medicaid in the state is the number of people on it.

The committee heard from Rosmond Dolen, Executive Director of the Kentucky Association of Health Plans, who gave an overview of the performance of the five Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) in the commonwealth.

“Early estimates indicate MCOs processed over 25 million medical claims in 2016,” Dolen said. “Kentucky’s five MCOs partner with the commonwealth to curb escalating health care costs within the Medicaid program, which are otherwise unsustainable, while improving the experience and quality of life for Kentucky’s Medicaid members.”

Sen. Danny Carroll, R-Paducah, who is President and CEO of Easter Seals West Kentucky, which is a provider of services covered by Medicaid, expressed his concerns about slow payment and non-payment to the providers.

“It is a constant battle with the MCOs, and it’s not something that’s getting any better,” Carroll said. “We deal with it constantly.”

Following the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, Kentucky, along with many other states, expanded its Medicaid program to include coverage for those individuals under age 65 in families with incomes below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level.

Initial projections of the number of people who would enroll in Kentucky’s expanded program were underestimated as the thought was 150,000 Kentuckians would be added to the Medicaid program during its first year, but in actuality, that number was over 300,000.

Today, over 1.3 million Kentuckians receive their health care benefits through Kentucky’s Medicaid managed care program.

Rep. Robert Benevenuti, R-Lexington, says therein lies the problem that there are simply too many Kentuckians in the program.

“We have many able bodied adults in Kentucky who choose not to work,” Benvenuti said. “It’s going to be very difficult to manage. It’s going to be very expensive. There’s going to be a lot of contractual issues with providers which are not going to be easily remedied.”

Rep. Jim Gooch, R-Providence, believes, like Benvenuti, that too many are taking advantage of the system.

“You know, we have almost 30 percent of our population on Medicaid and that truly is not sustainable,” Gooch said. “I’ve always felt that we should never provide benefits to recipients for free, that are better benefits than what the taxpaying public can actually purchase with their after tax remaining dollars.”

The five MCOs in Kentucky are Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Humana, Passport Health Plan, and Wellcare of Kentucky.


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