Center for American Progress

RELEASE: The Impact of Reversing Kentucky’s Health Care Reforms
Press Release

RELEASE: The Impact of Reversing Kentucky’s Health Care Reforms

Washington, D.C. — Last week, Kentucky elected a new governor to office, and the state’s health reforms are at risk. Before Gov.-elect Matt Bevin (R) takes office on December 8, the Center for American Progress outlines how a rollback of Kentucky’s successful health reforms would be a disaster.

In his campaign for governor, Bevin pledged to shut down Kentucky’s state health insurance marketplace, Kynect, and switch enrollees to the federal marketplace. He also initially pledged to repeal Medicaid expansion in the state but lately has focused on modifying Medicaid expansion with a waiver from the federal government rather than repealing it outright.

“Kentucky cannot afford to go backward,” said Topher Spiro, Vice President for Health Policy at CAP. “Elected officials should be proud of the successful health reforms at work throughout the state. Rather than recklessly playing partisan games with the Affordable Care Act to score ideological points, Gov.-elect Bevin should work responsibly to improve health reform even further.”

In a new issue brief published online today, CAP looks at how Kentucky is one of the greatest health care success stories in the nation under the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. It is boosting the state’s economy and improving the lives, health, and financial security of hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians every day. By fully implementing the ACA, Kentucky’s uninsured rate dropped by almost half in 2014 alone, from 14.3 percent to 8.5 percent—the largest decrease in the country. And after expanding Medicaid, Kentucky has already seen dramatic improvements in preventive health care usage among low-income Medicaid beneficiaries; for example, rates of breast cancer screenings, preventive dental services, and cholesterol screenings more than doubled in 2014.

Any switch to the federal marketplace or a rollback of Medicaid expansion would lead to the following repercussions:

  • Repealing Medicaid expansion would blow a massive hole in the state’s budget, imposing a negative fiscal impact of up to $919 million over the next few years.
  • Repealing would cause the state to miss out on the creation of 28,000 jobs and up to $30.1 billion in economic activity through 2021, as well as jeopardize the 12,000 jobs that Medicaid expansion has already created.
  • While a Medicaid waiver would be preferable to repeal, such an approach could potentially reduce the affordability of health care services for low-income families and deter enrollment.
  • Shutting down Kynect and switching to the federal marketplace would cost the state at least $23 million and raise premiums by up to 2.5 percent for Kentucky marketplace enrollees.

Read the full issue brief, “The Impact of Reversing Kentucky’s Health Care Reforms” by Thomas Huelskoetter, online here.

Related resources:

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Liz Bartolomeo at [email protected] or 202.481.8151.