Naturally, Kentucky House Republicans are pissing themselves trying to stop Beshear. For his part, Beshear is playing his cards close to his vest.
The top Republican in the Kentucky House wants Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear to halt an expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
The expansion of Medicaid is a central element in President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which says the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs to add certain people to the program in 2014. After three years, the states must pick up some of the costs of the expansion, which Kentucky can't afford, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown said.
Currently, the federal government pays 70 percent of the costs of the insurance program and the state picks up 30 percent. Under the expansion proposal, after three years the federal government would pay about 90 percent for those people added under the expansion, but the state would have to cover the other 10 percent.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the controversial federal health insurance law but ruled that states can't be penalized financially if they opt out of the Medicaid expansion. In Kentucky, more than 700,000 people receive insurance through the $6 billion program. It is Kentucky's largest insurance provider.
Yeah, you read that right: Medicaid is already the state's largest insurance provider. You'd think even Beshear would jump at the chance to do this. Sadly, he's up against the coal industry, and they're doing everything they can to kill anything close to resembling health care in the state. This is the result: Black Lung is back big time in coal mining country.
A joint investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) has found that McCowan is not alone. Incidence of the disease that steals the breath of coal miners doubled in the last decade, according to data analyzed by epidemiologist Scott Laney at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
Cases of the worst stage of the disease have quadrupled since the 1980s in a triangular region of Appalachia stretching from eastern Kentucky through southern West Virginia and into southwestern Virginia.
Black lung experts and mine safety advocates have warned of the resurgence of the disease since 1995. New reporting by CPI and NPR reveals the extent to which federal regulators and the mining industry failed to protect coal miners in the intervening years.
An analysis of federal data by CPI and NPR also shows that the mining industry and federal regulators have known for more than two decades that coal miners were breathing excessive amounts of the coal mine dust that causes black lung. CPI and NPR also found that the system for controlling coal mine dust is plagued by weak regulations and inaccurate reporting that sometimes includes fraud.
Suddenly the notion that people need long-term health care in the poorest part of the state has taken on quite the urgency, yes?