KENTUCKY: Kiddiecare Proposal Challenged By Coalition
"A coalition of child advocates" is arguing that federal children's health insurance funding "would be better spent on expanding Medicaid than on" Gov. Paul Patton's (D) proposed new Kiddiecare initiative. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Kentucky Youth Advocates, the Children's Alliance and the Kentucky Task Force On Hunger, among others, believe that $50 million in federal funds, along with the matching $13 million from Kentucky's General Fund, should be used for a "straight Medicaid expansion [that] would take effect more quickly and serve more children." Patton's $63 million Kiddiecare proposal "would spend about $5 million on Medicaid expansion and the rest on insurance policies for children of the working poor." Cabinet for Health Services Secretary John Morse is endorsing the plan he helped develop for Patton.
It's A Plan
Bills conforming to Patton's plan have been introduced in the state House and Senate. The measures "would set aside a small portion of the money to expand Medicaid coverage to children between 14 and 18 in families far below the poverty level." The Courier-Journal notes that the remaining $58 million would cover health insurance for "91,000 uninsured children in Kentucky whose families' income is less than twice the federal poverty threshold." The advocates' coalition wants "all of the $63 million" used "to expand Medicaid by making children from families with higher incomes eligible." Their plan would "cover all children at or below 133% of the poverty threshold" and would take in children "between 133% and 200% of the federal poverty threshold," but require their families "to pay a small premium based on income." The coalition plan proposes premiums and copayments "much smaller than those in the" governor's bill. The groups say "their plan will work because Medicaid already has an established system of health care providers and currently operates with overhead expenses of just 2.6%." However, Morse contends that "his plan keeps control over the amount spent, something not guaranteed under a Medicaid expansion" (Quinlan, 2/26).