As further evidence of the failure of the recently-passed federal health care legislation, we are beginning to find out what sort of hidden costs and effects will fall on the shoulder of our state legislature. In a speech at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Louisville, the changes are detailed:
Kentucky predicts at least 300,000 more people will qualify for the federal-state health plan that already covers a record 800,000 Kentuckians.
The new law will create an unprecedented surge in the demand for primary care, an underserved area already suffering from a shortage of physicians, nurse practitioners and others.
"There is no question this will increase demand in a very substantial kind of way," said Dr. Michael Karpf, executive vice president for heath affairs at the University of Kentucky.
A massive increase in state Medicaid rolls to approximately 25% of Kentucky's population.
A massive increase in demand for health care services that the state is unprepared for which will result in a further spike in costs.
State Rep. David Watkins, a Democratic physician, denies this elementary principle of supply and demand:
Rep. David Watkins, a Henderson family practice physician and member of the task force, said Kentucky needs to figure out how to manage its $5.2-billion-a-year Medicaid program more efficiently, and at the same time plan for the expansion he believes could help the state by getting more people basic health care.
"I'm still a strong believer that if we get more of our people insured, we'll begin to see a cost reduction," he said. "I see a lot of opportunities."
So he's a strong believer in wishful nonsense. Par for the course in Frankfort, where they passed a budget that depended on a non-existent extension of federal Medicaid funding:
In Kentucky, the federal government typically pays 70 percent of the state's Medicaid costs but currently is paying 80 percent under a temporary increase through federal stimulus funds.
Those funds expire Dec. 31, and if Congress doesn't extend the increased rate, Kentucky could be facing a Medicaid shortfall of up to $1 billion in the current fiscal year alone, because lawmaker assumed the increase would be extended in the budget approved earlier this year.
This very funding provision had been included and removed from recent legislation that just passed Congress. So, with a $1 billion shortfall, Medicaid seems to be headed for significant cuts, right?
That prospect has some lawmakers seeking ways to trim Medicaid spending. But their options are severely limited under the federal health-care law that bans substantial cuts in Medicaid programs, a point several speakers made Sunday.
In California, lawmakers had hoped to balance a huge deficit by cutting some Medicaid services, then found out they were blocked by the health-reform law, said Lisa Murawski, a legislative staffer from that state.
Obamacare: new mandates, no funding, no flexibility. Kentucky lawmakers will be faced with a choice -- challenge the federal law or find $1 billion in new revenue. We'll predict the petition will be on Jack Conway's desk by Thanksgiving...