How the latest Senate health care bill would affect Kentucky

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)- One non-partisan health coalition director says if the latest Senate health care bill passes, it would mean hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians will lose coverage.

She says the 145 page bill is built as a tax break, but it would only apply to less than 30,000 Kentuckians. She says everyone else would have to pay more for coverage, or go without.

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ABC 36 got insight on how the bill would impact Kentucky from two leaders of Kentucky health policy groups. Both assured us their organizations are non-partisan, though one is led by a former democratic congressman.

“We don’t care what party someone belongs to,” CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Ben Chandler, said.

“We want everyone to have access to affordable coverage,” Executive Director of Kentucky Voices for Health, Emily Beauregard, said.



Beauregard says under the bill more than 500,000 Kentuckians will lose coverage. She says they will not be able to afford high premiums and out of pocket costs, and they will end up paying more for less.

“At some point you have to make rational decisions about what you can afford and whether it makes sense,” Beauregard said.

She says the bill would allow insurers to strip essential health benefits from their plans, allowing them to charge more for services like women’s care.

“It would just be very un-affordable. This just simply isn’t a bill that’s going to work for Kentuckians,” Beauregard said.

Chandler says some of the most vulnerable will be those who benefited from Medicaid’s expansion. He says 475,000 Kentuckians gained coverage because of it, but this bill calls for that money to be phased out.

“A lot of the people who are getting treatment for opioids are getting it through Medicaid, and that’s going away so that can’t help, but harm and cause the opioid crisis to get even worse,” Chandler said.

According to Beauregard, even people with employer coverage will be negatively impacted. She says to offset costs of a less-insured population, hospitals will charge more to employer plans. Beauregard says her focus always is on creating something better for Kentuckians.

“We think we could even do something better than the ACA, but we certainly don’t think the current bill on the table does that,” Beauregard said.

She says the bill would be devastating for Kentucky. She says governor Beshear removed more than $250,000,000 from the state’s healthcare safety net because it was not needed after Medicaid expansion, but she says if this bill becomes law, Kentucky will not go back to the state of affairs before expansion. Instead, the state will end up with a gaping funding hole.