Over the next few months, the federal health care law moves into a new phase. Beginning in October, Kentuckians can buy health insurance through a new, state-operated exchange. The federal government is also financing an expansion of Medicaid coverage in Kentucky. Nevertheless, Monticello Representative Ken Upchurch still worries coverage for many people will remain unavailable and unaffordable.
“I don’t know that it can be done financially or economically. Just trying to get everyone, how do you pay for it, I mean, how in the world are we gonna pay for this,” said Upchurch.
With unemployment in Kentucky at eight-point-five percent, Upchurch believes higher taxes to cover the cost is not feasible. Republican lawmakers have long questioned the affordability and practicality of the health care reforms enacted by Congress. But, over time, House Health and Welfare Committee Chair Tom Burch believes some of their concerns will fade.
“Once we see the benefit of what happens on October first when people start accessing insurance and by the time it gets to be January I think that it will probably calm down a little bit,” said Burch.
By emphasizing preventative care, Burch argues the Commonwealth can save millions in emergency room costs. Proponents also say, with more people paying premiums, there will be more money for health care.