The Chatter: U.S Senate debate scheduled, Medicaid shortfall expected, and campaign offices in the west

09/09/2010 01:54 PM

Amanda Van Benschoten of the Kentucky Enquirer reports that U.S. Senate candidates Jack Conway and Rand Paul will hold a debate Oct. 11 in Northern Kentucky at Northern Kentucky University.

State legislature, not Congress, to blame for Medicaid shortfall, Beshear says

Facing a $470 million shortfall in Medicaid funding, Gov. Steve Beshear attacked the state General Assembly for the shortfall, Jack Brammer of the Lexington Herald-Leader has reported.

Beshear claims he warned the legislature about overly relying on money Congress would provide.

“Congress did take action to provide some much-needed funds to the states so we can continue to provide medical care to our most vulnerable citizens,” Beshear said in the Herald-Leader story. “However, our General Assembly assumed we could get millions more and balanced their budget based on that assumption.”

While Beshear initially proposed a budget in January that didn’t rely on the promise of additional congressional help for the Medicaid budget, his state spending plan assumed income from gambling revenue that never came to pass because legislators made it clear they wouldn’t approve slot machines. This spring, Beshear’s compromise budget plan aimed at getting lawmakers to agree on the spending bill in a May special session did assume the extra money from Washington for Medicaid. Medicaid is a federally and state-funded program that covers health care costs of the poor and disabled.

Congress, after some uncertainty, approved a bill that included additional funding for states’ Medicaid program last month last month. But it was not quite the full amount the General Assembly-approved budget expected.

Beshear expects the legislature to take up the issue during next year’s legislative session.

But Senate President David Williams’s legislative spokeswoman sent audio to reporters from a committee meeting earlier this week in which Kentucky Medicaid Commissioner Elizabeth A. Johnson was asked about the status of cost-savings measures in the program. Click here to listen to the audio.

Conway to open Owensboro, Paducah offices

The Kentucky Democratic Party and Conway are opening two new offices in Western Kentucky this Saturday, KDP spokesman Matt Erwin confirmed to cn|2 Politics. The openings, Saturday morning in Owensboro and Saturday afternoon in Paducah, are the latest in a series of openings for Conway. In the past two weeks, the Conway campaign has opened offices in Lexington, Ashland, Northern Kentucky and Bowling Green.

The Democrats are playing some catch-up to the Republicans when it comes to setting up a statewide network of offices. The Republican Party of Kentucky has had a staff person in Owensboro since February and an office established for months. And Paul, the GOP U.S. Senate nominee, has established offices across the state.

- Kenny Colston


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