By: Ben Chandler, President & CEO, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
These days Kentuckians are paying more for a lot of things… gas and grocery costs are skyrocketing. Families are carefully budgeting their expenses to make sure their paychecks stretch as far as possible. But even with sacrifices, many Kentuckians will have to make tough decisions between fuel and food… filling up or feeding their kids. Add in an unplanned trip to the doctor’s office and families could end up in crisis.
Now, a bill making its way through Frankfort stands to make things all the more difficult for hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.
House Bill 7, recently passed by the Kentucky House, would institute several measures that would make it harder for Kentuckians to get – and keep – food assistance and health care coverage. It does this largely by creating added paperwork requirements for Kentuckians and administrators within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services who would be responsible for processing and validating the paperwork.
The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy estimates nearly 200,000 people could lose Medicaid coverage, and tens of thousands of Kentuckians could lose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits should HB7 pass.
While Medicaid and SNAP provide vital assistance to Kentuckians, these programs do not put cash into individuals’ pockets.
They do put money in local economies – money that goes to grocers, farmers markets, hospitals, health care providers, nursing homes, hospitals and pharmacies, among others.
In fact, Moody’s Analytics reports for every $1 spent on SNAP benefits, $1.61 is generated in economic activity.
Meantime, Medicaid adds billions of dollars in economic activity and supports job creation. Further economic ripples from Medicaid spending include purchases made by health care workers and taxes on their wages, as well as health care facilities’ contracts with local vendors, such as janitorial and restaurant services. And, $0.90 of each Medicaid dollar is paid for by Federal monies, while states pay only $0.10 of each Medicaid dollar spent.
Community Catalysts says cutting Medicaid spending forfeits federal funds, short-circuits the economic engine of Medicaid, and significantly worsens a state’s economic situation.
Even more, if 200,000 Kentuckians lose Medicaid coverage because of HB7, fewer people will be able to go to the doctor for care. That could result in lost jobs at provider offices and more patients seeking uncompensated care in high-cost emergency departments.
Kentucky was hit hard by the pandemic. While communities start to recover, now is NOT the time to go backwards and remove millions of dollars from local economies and billions from the state’s overall economy. That’s what HB 7 stands to do.
The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky urges Kentucky Senators to vote “no” on this HB7.
Ben Chandler is president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. Learn more at healthy-ky.org.