Kentucky leads nation in decrease of those without insurance

Kentucky is one of the states most affected by former President Barack Obama’s health care law, new data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows.

Yet it’s also a state that has elected some of the law’s biggest opponents.

In 2013, 14.3 percent of Kentucky’s population had no health insurance. By 2016, just 5.1 percent of the population lacked coverage. That’s a 64 percent decline, the largest of any state in the country according to data from the American Community Survey released this week. It’s similar to data from other national polls, including the Gallup-Healthways Survey.

Nearly all of that decrease is because Kentucky was one of 31 states that expanded their Medicaid programs under the federal Affordable Care Act, allowing more than 461,000 people to get health coverage.

Since then, Kentucky voters have elected a wave of Republican leaders who campaigned on repealing the law. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin wants to move people off Medicaid and onto private insurance plans. He has asked the federal government for permission to charge some Medicaid recipients monthly premiums and require some of them to work or volunteer in order to keep their benefits.

If approved, Bevin estimates Kentucky’s Medicaid enrollment would decline by 95,000 people in five years.

“All those things really jeopardize the kind of gains we’ve made lately,” said Dustin Pugel, a research and policy associate for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. “It…

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