Rep. Westrom sees big challanges for child welfare panel and great experiment in Medicaid expansion

01/04/2013 07:26 AM

Expanding medical coverage to more Kentuckians and ensuring more transparency in the oversight of child abuse and neglect cases are two of the health-related goals Democratic Rep. Susan Westrom says Kentucky leaders should have in 2013.

Westrom, of Lexington, tried last year to increase oversight of how the Health Cabinet handles child abuse and neglect cases. While Westrom’s bill failed, Gov. Steve Beshear created a commission in July to oversee child welfare cases.

However, one concern is that the commission of advocates, lawyers, legislators and retired judges, won’t have access to full case files.

“They really need to have access to all of the information so that they can determine forensically what went awry and what improvements and changes they can make in our child protective cases,” Westrom said (at 1:00 of the video).

Westrom says that in the field of child welfare social worker play a key role and that profession say some neglect as new social workers did not have professionals with a broad base of knowledge to turn to.

“I think so many of our social workers felt like they didn’t have the support they needed and I certainly understand that with the critical cases they are looking at,” she said (at 3:50).

Westrom also said she would support expanding Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act to cover those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty rate — about $32,000 a year for a family of four. That would add between 300,000 and 400,000 more Kentuckians on the Medicaid rolls and Kentucky would have to pay a part of that cost starting in 2017. Westrom, though, said it could be worth it in the long run to make sure more people are covered.

“If they become covered with health coverage they are going to have care, they will have preventative care, they will be able to deal with issues such as diabetes and asthma and learn different ways to live a healthier lifestyle and be held accountable for how they take care of themselves and that in the long run should cut costs,” she said (at 4:40).


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