|Beshear speaks at the Good Morning Bluegrass |
event in Lexington. (Photo by Melissa Landon)
"Kentucky is one of the least healthy states in the country," Beshear said. "I'm not proud of that." He said he knew something had to be done about it—then along came the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"You can like it; you can not like it, but for the first time in our history . . . we've got a tool to provide affordable health care for every single Kentuckian," Beshear said. He acknowledged the system is imperfect, but said Kentucky is recognized nationally as the model for health-insurance exchanges.
Beshear reported that almost 200,000 of the 640,000 previously uninsured Kentuckians have signed up for health care through the exchange, branded as Kynect. Most are in Medicaid, the free program for the poor; Beshear expanded the program to include people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty threshold.
The federal government will pay the cost of the expansion through 2016; the state will pay 3 percent in 2017, rising to the law's cap of 10 percent in 2020. A state-funded study said the expansion would create enough jobs to pay for itself, and Beshear said his emphasis on education and health would create jobs.
"A healthy workforce is the key to the future of the Commonwealth of Kentucky," because prospective employers are primarily concerned with whether an area has a healthy, trained educated workforce to help get the job done, the governor said. "The Affordable Care Act is giving us the opportunity to increase the healthiness of our workforce."
For a county-by-county list of Kynect signups for insurance and Medicaid, click here.