Physicians Talk Medicaid Expansion in Kentucky

By Melissa Warren | 

Governor Steve Beshear has announced his plans for Medicaid expansion in Kentucky following a recommendation in the federal Affordable Care Act.

That plan means more than 300,000 Kentuckians will have health coverage through Medicaid. That's more than half of the uninsured in the state.

Some associate the expansion of medicaid with longer wait times, but one local clinic CEO says it's only temporary thing as the primary care industry grows.

"Until we can back-fill the supply of physicians, you might see times when instead of getting an appointment in two days, you might have a situation where you get an appointment within four or five days," said Graves Gilbert Clinic CEO Chris Thorn.

Filling those positions is something Graves Gilbert Clinic has anticipated, so they've been increasing their workforce, and expanding facilities for the past five years a visible work in progress at the clinic.

"Warren county is considered a federally under-served area for primary care. We're trying to fix that by bringing more physicians in to care of the patients," said Thorn.

Partnering with WKU to give nurses and nurse practitioners training and jobs when they graduate is one way Thorn says everyone can benefit. He says more people than ever will now have access to primary care physicians, actually reducing waiting times in one area where time is essential.

"Patients have historically gone to the emergency rooms, putting incredible pressure on the emergency rooms for low acuity. These are patients coming in for sore throats, stomach aches, and those type of things instead of going to a physician which they didn't have access to," said Thorn.

This trend actually increased waiting times for those who needed immediate attention, but Thorn says expanding Medicaid will correct that.
He says while health care for more people is a good thing, there's still one little concern for those in the health care industry.

"The biggest question we like everyone else have is, where's this money going to come from?" asked Thorn.

For now, it appears that answer is federal funding.

According to Gov. Beshear, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the first three years of the expansion, and will decrease to 90 percent by 2020.

For more information on Governor Beshear's announcement, see the link below.

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