Lawmakers Get Medicaid Update

Jul 25, 2014

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State lawmakers got an update Thursday on Kentucky’s expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in Frankfort from Lawrence Kissner, Commissioner for Kentucky’s Department of Medicaid Services.

Kissner says his department is on track to fully implement the expansion, and enrollee health outcomes are improving under the new federal health care law.

“Adult preventive services increases 36.7 percent; breast cancer increases 20.6 percent; cervical cancer screenings increased 3 percent; and colorectal cancer screenings increased 16 percent,” Kissner said. “So we still are seeing some positive movement in the basic preventative health care demographics.”

At a meeting of the joint appropriations and revenue committee, Republican Senator David Givens echoed the spirit of many of his colleagues’ concerns with the law in terms of how the state can make money off of its investment into Medicaid expansion, which will start in the next couple of years at a reduced rate.

“From a financial stewardship perspective, how does the state Medicaid program benefit as we see, what is the process for us to see financial benefit from improved health outcomes from the people we cover?” Givens asked.

But Kissner says the biggest return on investment occurs when you improve people’s health.

“Health care is not a zero-sum game,” Kissner said. “Building a healthier population results in more time at work, more efficient at work, maybe more head in the game at work … we need some PhD-types, but they can be determined to say ‘We believe this is a return on that investment; that’s a positive return for the state of Kentucky.’”

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported last year that the healthcare sector will provide the biggest source of job growth for the next decade. And a pair of independent studies show that Kentucky will actually begin to gain revenue from the expansion -- about $800 million -- by 2021.