Kentucky Candidates Differ On Expanding Health Insurance Coverage

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Louisville Courier-Journalon Tuesday examined health care proposals from Kentucky gubernatorialcandidate Steve Beshear (D) and incumbent Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R).According to the Courier-Journal, Fletcher and Beshear"agree on some health care issues but have different approaches to onepressing problem -- extending health coverage to more than half amillion residents who lack it."


Fletcher, noting thatthree-quarters of the state's uninsured work for small businesses, hassaid he would expand the ICARE program his administration establishedto help small employers pay for workers' coverage. The programcurrently covers more than 1,500 people in businesses with 25 or feweremployees, but Fletcher would expand eligibility to employers with 50or fewer workers. He also has proposed establishing ICARE 4 Kids, whichwould expand KCHIP, the state's version of SCHIP, to subsidize premiumsso families of small-business workers could purchase coverage throughICARE.

Beshear has proposed allowing families with incomesbetween 200% and 300% of the federal poverty level to purchase coveragethrough KCHIP, with premiums on a sliding scale based on income.Families with incomes above 300% of the poverty level also could enrollchildren in the program, but they would pay full premiums.

Bothcandidates support prevention efforts to help lower health care costs.In addition, both candidates oppose raising cigarette taxes to pay fortheir respective expansions. Health reform advocates say Beshear's"overall proposals for cutting the ranks of the uninsured are morecomprehensive," but they "credit Fletcher for keeping many from losinghealth coverage through his management of Medicaid," according to the Courier-Journal (Howington, Louisville Courier-Journal, 10/30).

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