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'> cn|2 Pure Politics  - Stivers says governor had authority to expand Medicaid but that doesn't mean he should have

Stivers says governor had authority to expand Medicaid but that doesn't mean he should have

06/18/2013 05:00 PM

Senate President Robert Stivers said the legislature will vet the cost and effects of Gov. Steve Beshear’s decision to expand Medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act — and could undo the governor’s move in the 2014 session.

But Stivers, the Manchester Republican who just finished his first session as leader of the upper chamber, said he believes Beshear had the power to make the decision — which Beshear announced May 9 — but shouldn’t have done so without legislative vetting.

“I think the governor has the authority — let me make that clear,” Stivers said (8:20). Tea party activist David Adams has challenged the governor’s decision on that basis.

Stivers said he is concerned about the eventual cost to the state of adding 308,000 low-income Kentuckian to the program that already covers the health care for 825,000 poor and disabled Kentuckians. The federal government will pick up the full tab for the first three years to add those Kentuckians making up to 138 percent of the poverty rate. Starting Jan. 1, 2017, Kentucky must cover 5 percent of the cost of expansion. That will go up to 10 percent by 2020.

“This is something that’s going to cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars at some point in time. And do we have that ability to do that,” he said (3:00). … “Initially thinking about where we are in our fiscal position, I don’t think it was appropriate to expand it. But we still don’t have all the information.”

Stivers (at 1:00 of the segment) outlined a list of questions about the logistics, cost and implementation in places where there are doctor shortages — all issues he said should have been vetted in the legislative process.

“We need to know pros and cons of this. And there was no opportunity for the policy making body, which is the legislature, to do that,” he said.

Stivers said the General Assembly can undo the expansion.

“We can — without a doubt,” he said (2:30). But “we’d have to have the cooperation of the House.”

And he said wouldn’t be too late to do that in the 2014 session even though the expansion is supposed to begin Jan. 1, 2014 (at 9:00 of the segment).

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