Like others in the health advocacy field, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky President Ben Chandler isn’t sure exactly what changes will be made to the Affordable Care Act under President-elect Donald Trump or how his administration will handle Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver application.
Trump campaigned on a promise to repeal and replace the health law known as Obamacare, but he’s softened his tone on certain pieces, such as forcing insurers to cover those with pre-existing health conditions and allowing young beneficiaries to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26, since his election last week.
Chandler, a former congressman, attorney general and state auditor, said he hopes whatever happens to the health law, the changes won’t disrupt care for those who depend on it. He’s “very anxious” to work with Trump and Gov. Matt Bevin “to try to see that our people here in Kentucky get the best healthcare that they can get” and improve health outcomes.
“People are relying on different aspects of the Affordable Care Act, and to just yank it out and repeal it without having something to replace it is going to be easier said than done,” Chandler said in an interview with Pure Politics on Tuesday (1:20 in part one of the interview).
“And I think the president and anybody else who’s a policymaker doesn’t want to end up with chaos.”
Chandler says he applauds Bevin’s approach in seeking a demonstration waiver for Kentucky’s Medicaid program rather than simply undoing former Gov. Steve Beshear’s executive order expanding Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act.
“I think they’re trying to find a sweet spot that’s best both for the state budget and for the citizens of Kentucky,” he said (4:25 in part one of the interview).
Some provisions found in Kentucky’s application have been denied under President Barack Obama, but how the Trump administration will evaluate waiver applications remains to be seen.
Chandler said Medicaid waiver applications are in “no man’s land” as Trump transitions into the White House. The ball, he said, “is now in President Trump’s court.”
“What’s interesting is the waiver the Gov. Bevin has asked for is not dissimilar to what Indiana got, and of course Indiana’s governor who got that waiver is the vice president-elect (Mike Pence), so he may have a great deal to do with what happens in this area once the Trump administration takes office,” he said (4:52 in the first part of the interview).
The federal government may have a more difficult time financing Medicaid expansion “because they’re the ones that are shelling out the most money,” but Chandler says the program is a good deal for the state, which eventually will have to foot 10 percent of the expansion bills.
Bevin’s waiver application estimates that savings will reach $2.2 billion total through fiscal year 2021 if the state’s proposal is approved, with about $331 million of that in savings for the state.
“It’s a very difficult decision because you are, I think, going to have to come up with more money, but if you can come up with more money that will lead to nine times the money that you come up with, you may want to think twice about doing that,” Chandler said (5:10 in the second part of the interview).
Watch part one of the interview with Chandler here:
The second part can be viewed here: