Yarmuth says benefits to Ky. of expanding Medicaid out-weigh the costs

08/24/2012 08:11 AM

Covering the health care of more Kentuckians is worth the cost of finding several hundred million more dollars starting in 2017 with the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, said Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville.

“We can’t afford not to opt into the Medicaid expansion,” he said (7:30). “In terms of the overall long-term costs of leaving these people out of the health care system — the uncompensated care that’s going on — my guess is that the cost to the commonwealth long-term by opting out of the Medicaid expansion will be far greater than the cost of being involved.”

The Affordable Care Act calls for expanding Medicaid starting in 2014 to cover people making up to 138 percent of the poverty level, which is about $32,000 for a family of four, according to the Kaiser Foundation.

The federal government will cover the cost of the expansion for the first three years. But Kentucky will have to start paying a share of the expanded Medicaid program costs starting in 2017. Yarmuth said that share of several hundred million dollars pales in comparison to the $13 billion Kentucky stands to receive from the federal government for its citizens’ health care.

“That’s a lot of money for Kentucky hospitals, doctors and nursing homes,” he said (5:00). In addition, he said: “It’s estimated that there’s Up to $600 million worth of uncompensated care provided in Kentucky every year. And taxpayers pay for that in a lot of different ways.”

Yarmuth started by talking about the Democrats reaction to the controversial statements by Todd Akin, the Missouri congressman and U.S. Senate candidate, who said a woman’s body can shut down a pregnancy in instances of “legitimate rape.”

“I don’t think anyone in the Democratic Party wants this to become a gender-based election, even though there are more women than men,” he said (1:30). “But I think again, this is an area that is ripe for the president to exploit his advantage with women. And one after another, Republicans have shown themselves to be, quite frankly, disrespectful about women’s ability to make decisions about their own lives.”

Yarmuth also answered questions about the gulf between the tax proposal offered by President Barack Obama that would raise taxes on Americans earning $250,000 or more a year and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, whose plan would offer the wealthiest Americans a net break.

Yarmuth said Congress should find enough room to compromise between the two.

“The case is reasonable that the $250,000 threshold, which is what President Obama has proposed, does bring into play a lot of people who, in certain communities, are very middle class,” he said then added, “$250,000 in Kentucky is not the same as in New York or Los Angeles.”

But he said one major factor is holding U.S. House Republicans back from agreeing to a compromise. Find out what it is at the 2:00 mark of the video:


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.