Like most states, Kentucky is facing real challenges in providing health care to those who can't afford it. (a) The seemingly endless argument over whether Louisville (unlike other Kentucky cities and counties) should finance a major portion of its own local indigent care just complicates the University of Louisville Hospital's long-term funding problem . (b) The Passport model for delivering Medicaid care has worked fairly well in the extended Louisville Metro area, serving some 170,000 in Jefferson, Oldham, Trimble, Carroll, Henry, Shelby, Spencer, Bullitt, Nelson, Washington, Marion, Larue, Hardin, Grayson, Meade and Breckinridge counties. Passport was ranked as the 13th best Medicaid health plan in the country by the National Committee for Quality Assurance. However, Passport spending and conflict-of-interest issues did force the Beshear Administration to revamp not just Passport but all of Kentucky's Medicaid system, moving from fees-for-service to managed-care contracts. Recently, three new managed care operators (MCO's) serving Eastern Kentucky have been criticized for not making timely or appropriate payments. Appalachian Regional Healthcare insists that more than 5,000 claims are awaiting reimbursement and that the Cabinet for Health and Family Services is not providing adequate oversight. Clearly all of this shows the need for close oversight by the appropriate legislative committees. Huge outlays are at stake. The Governor claims his new approach will save $375 million over the period of the new contracts. Lawmakers must monitor progress toward that goal. Also, the legislature must insure not only that care is efficient and effective but also that health and wellness programs are real parts of the contractors' approach.
My wife and I know what this means. Within the past year, our twins, Clara and Wilson, were born 14 weeks premature. Wilson weighed 1lb, 15oz and Clara barely weighed a pound and a half. We spent 109 days in the antepartum, postpartum, and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Norton/Kosair. Thanks to the prayers of many people and the sophisticated and loving medical care available right here, we've been blessed. Our children are doing well. We also both had jobs with health insurance. Premature birth, however, typically affects women with no pre-natal or gynecological care. As a state senator, I will work with all legislators, including Julie Rose Denton, and our State Auditor Adam Edelen to police the MCO's and ensure our families are able to receive the basic care and services they deserve.