The Kentucky House of Representatives working in a bi-partisan way passed a bill this week to balance the Medicaid budget shortfall that is facing Kentucky. Governor Beshear has made cuts and balanced the budget eight times during his three years in office. The executive branch of Kentucky’s government currently has the fewest employees it has had since the mid-seventies. In essence, the Governor has been responsible when it comes to the fiscal management of our government agencies.
The current Medicaid shortfall is due to an increase in new enrollees and cuts from the Federal Government. More than two dozen states are facing similar situations. The House supports the Governor’s plan that was submitted in November to balance the Medicaid budget by taking advantage of savings created by implementing a managed care program and with Federal matching funds.
Unfortunately, politics and the pending gubernatorial election have gotten in the way of good public policy. The Senate, lead by GOP candidate for governor, David Williams, has refused to accept the Governor’s proposal to make Medicaid solvent and has instead proposed across-the-board cuts to schools, colleges and universities, law enforcement, prosecutors, social services and heath care. Our schools cannot afford deeper cuts without sacrificing quality and families can’t afford high tuition.
If a resolution is not passed by April 1st, the impact would be devastating to Kentucky’s health care providers and to all patients and their families. More than 8,400 doctors offices, 1,300 pharmacies, 300 nursing homes and 80 hospitals would take a financial hit that would lead to layoffs and closures. Health care costs would increase for all of us and access would be reduced. The Senate proposal would even impact the Veterans’ Home in Ft. Thomas.
I call upon my colleagues in the Senate to do the right thing and allow the Governor to do his job to manage this budget situation with the plans set-forth with bi-partisan agreement in the House of Representatives. We can’t balance Medicaid on the backs of our children without negatively impacting the future of the Commonwealth.
Representative Dennis Keene represents the 67th House District, which includes northern Campbell County