Comer wants to get Kentuckians off Medicaid and into private ins - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Comer wants to get Kentuckians off Medicaid and into private insurance

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Getting Kentuckians healthier without making the state budget sicker; that's the bottom line of a health care plan revealed today by Republican candidate for governor and current Agriculture Commissioner James Comer.

Comer's health care plan puts a priority on getting Kentuckians off Medicaid.

“The single most effective action that can be taken in health care is for our federal delegation to repeal Obamacare root and branch,” said Comer at a Louisville news conference.

Comer acknowledges that more than 400,000 Kentuckians who did not have health insurance, now have it through the Affordable Care Act. The problem, he says, is that most have signed up for Medicaid.

Twenty-five percent of Kentuckians are now on Medicaid, with the federal government paying the full cost. But starting in 2017, the state must begin to pick up part of the tab.

“It's great to offer free health care to people, but the taxpayers of Kentucky cannot afford to pay for free health care for so many Kentuckians,” Comer told WDRB in an interview.

Comer says he wants to get Kentuckians into private insurance by attracting businesses to the state that offer higher wages and health benefits.

“That's why my Economic Development Cabinet will only give tax incentives to companies that pay living wages and offer good benefits, health care benefits, to their employees,” said Comer.

Comer also says he will review Medicaid eligibility requirements with an eye towards raising the minimum income level to qualify.

“To make sure that the taxpayers aren't paying a huge bill for able-bodied Kentuckians that shouldn't really be on Medicaid,” he said.

Comer says he will bring together experts from across the state, to look at ways to improve the overall health of Kentuckians and address the rising cost.

“This is not going to be a one-size fit all solution. It's going to be multiple solutions. But certainly one of them is truly managing and coordinating the care,” said Norton Healthcare CEO Stephen Williams.

Gov. Steve Beshear says new health care jobs created by expanding Medicaid will more than cover the cost, but Comer doesn't buy it.

“I'm not going to be a governor, like we have now, that kicks the can down the road on difficult issues,” he said.

Comer's health care ideas are part of a larger economic and education plan which he will unveil over the next six weeks.

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