Beshear Announces Medicaid Expansion; Hospital Worries

Reported by: Aaron Adelson
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Updated: 5/09/2013 6:15 pm
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AAdelsonABC36

Governor Steve Beshear says Kentucky is one of the most unhealthy states in the country.  Hoping to change that, Beshear announced he will expand Medicaid. 

Starting January 1st, 2014 Kentuckians within 138% of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid.  For a family of four, that would be an annual income of $32,499. 

A hospital worries if it can afford to treat more Medicaid patients.

We visited Cynthiana's Harrison Memorial Hospital in March.  At the time, the hospital was waiting for about $650,000 for treating Medicaid patients.

"Unfortunately, it's worsened," said Sheila Currans, Harrison Memorial Hospital (HMH) CEO. 

Now Currans says the hospital is owed about $850,000. 

When the hospital treats a Medicaid patient, it bills a Managed Care Organization.  They operate like insurance companies.  Except, Currans says they don't pay the bills.

The financial situation at HMH continues to worsen.  So, it has serious concerns about what a Medicaid expansion means for its bottom line and the community.

"How do you plan for an expanded flawed system?  How do you budget for that," asks Currans.

The Governor expects about 300,000 uninsured Kentuckians to join Medicaid.

"Our Managed Care operation is working and it's working pretty well.  It's been interesting so far.  In that, as we work with those hospitals, those numbers that they start out with seem to dwindle significantly," said Governor Beshear.

"It's real money owed to us, and instead of getting better, it's actually worsened," said Currans.

HMH is one of the biggest employers in Cynthiana.  Currans says if the hospital is losing money, then Cynthiana loses as well. 


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