The ripple effects of recent changes to the health care industry are still being measured, but Kentucky is already touting what it views as a positive impact of the Commonwealth’s decision to accept the Medicaid expansion under the law.
Governor Beshear’s office announced in August that the Commonwealth has seen an enormous uptick in the provision of preventive health services, owing to the influx of the newly-insured under Kentucky’s Medicaid program. Since the Medicaid expansion took effect in 2013, the number of Kentuckians receiving preventive care has risen dramatically. According to data from the Department of Medicaid Services (“DMS”) cited in the Governor’s press release, “In calendar year 2014, more than 159,500 Medicaid recipients received preventive dental services, nearly 51,300 were screened for breast cancer and more than 35,600 received colorectal cancer screenings – more than double the number of people who received those services in 2013.” Additionally, wellness and physical exams increased 187 percent, flu vaccinations increased 143 percent, smoking cessation counseling and intervention increased 169 percent, and osteoporosis screenings jumped by 193 percent.
Advocates of preventive health services hope that these increases translate into more revenue for Kentucky healthcare providers. Kentucky’s ongoing physician shortage and low Medicaid reimbursement rates, however, continue to hamper providers’ ability to provide the highest volume and level of preventive care to many Kentucky patients, particularly in rural areas. While Kentucky can point to tangible improvement in providing preventive care, there is always room for improvement.