Kentucky is seeing a positive economic impact in its first 12 months of Medicaid expansion, above even the state's projections in 2013, according to new data released Thursday by Gov. Steve Beshear.
The state added 12,000 jobs last year, including more than 5,400 in healthcare, as a result of the Affordable Care Act, the governor reported.
That number is expected to rise to 40,000 new jobs by 2021, according to Beshear, who placed the net economic impact on the state at $30 billion over eight years.
“Kentucky can indeed afford to take care of its citizens. Indeed we can't afford not to,” he said.
Kentucky experienced the second-largest drop in an uninsured population in the country, with the number of people without coverage falling below 12% of the state's population in 2014, down from 20% in 2013.
The state tapped Deloitte Consulting to update an economic impact study previously conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers before Medicaid expansion went into effect.
About 521,000 people have signed up for a health plan through the state's insurance exchange, Kynect, the majority of whom qualified for Medicaid.
At a news conference, the Democratic governor—whose pro-healthcare reform stance has been fiercely opposed by Republicans in this traditionally red state—touted the more than $1.6 billion in new funds that providers received last year.
Hospitals received $506.6 million, or 43.6% of their total revenue, thanks to Medicaid expansion, Beshear said. Uncompensated care fell to $766 million in 2014, down 60% from $1.9 billion the previous year.
“This represents a major pay raise for our hospitals,” Beshear said. “Medicaid expansion is working, and it's paying off—literally. We're changing the course of Kentucky's future.”
Publicly traded hospital chains also have reported a positive effect from Medicaid expansion, citing deep reductions in the number of uninsured patients they're treating in states that have expanded eligibility levels for coverage.
The Colorado Hospital Association last year found that hospitals in Medicaid expansion states witnessed a 32.1% decrease in the amount of charity care they provided in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the same period in the prior year. In non-expansion states, the amount of charity care increased 10.5% in the same period.
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