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Beshear barnstorms as special session starts

Beshear barnstorms as special session starts

by Joe Arnold


Posted on March 13, 2011 at 10:32 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 13 at 10:33 PM

Despite saying on Thursday that the governor's race is the last thing on his mind as a Medicaid budget gap looms, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) will barnstorm the commonwealth on Monday in a fashion akin to election day campaigning. 

Stopping at airports in media markets is an efficient way to bring a campaign to local members of the press and increases the likelihood that a message will be conveyed in that market.  Curiously, the governor is skipping the state's largest media market, Louisville.

A news release from the governor's office on Sunday says he "will be urging public to call on their legislators to balance Medicaid budget to avoid provider rate reductions and cuts to education."

As the stalemate over how to fix the Medicaid hole continues, Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville) is sticking by his proposal of an across the board cut of the state budget, including education.  Beshear rejects any cuts and is sticking to his solution of taking a $166 million advance on next year's Medicaid budget.  Because Beshear is transforming Medicaid to a managed care model in Kentucky, the governor contends that the resulting cost savings will cover the advance.  Williams doubts that Beshear will deliver on the savings, leaving yet another budget hole for the future.

Despite any sign of any progress between the two sides, Beshear called legislators into a special session, starting Monday.  If past is prologue, the Democratic majority House will again approve of a measure modeled after the governor's plan and the Republican majority Senate will vote it down.

Maintaining that a Medicaid shortfall must be fixed with Medicaid dollars, Beshear notified Medicaid providers on Friday to prepare for cuts of about 35 percent in reimbursements for the final three months of the fiscal year, beginning April 1.

In Kentucky, Medicaid provides care to about 800,000 poor, disabled and elderly residents.  The lower reimbursement rate would affect any medical provider that has Medicaid clients, including nursing homes, hospitals, homes for the disabled, doctors, home health agencies, pharmacies, comprehensive care centers and local health departments.

The news conferences are:

10 a.m. - Blue Grass Airport, Lexington

11:15 a.m. Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

12:45 p.m. Wendell H. Ford Regional Airport, Chavies, Ky.

 2 p.m. Ashland Regional Airport, Worthington, Ky.