Kentucky Republican senators won't block Medicaid expansion funding despite prior GOP opposition

Kentucky's Republican senate leaders said they will not prevent the $250 million in state funding needed to pay for the state's Medicaid expansion program, according to The Associated Press.

Outgoing Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (D) expanded the state's Medicaid program by an executive order in 2014. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the program's costs until 2017, when federal funding will drop to 90 percent.

Governor Beshear's decision was met with disagreement from Republicans, who tried to stop his actions. In fact, when Matt Bevin (R) was elected as governor in November, his campaign focused on changing the Medicaid expansion act. Though he hasn't outlined a specific plan, he said he wants to make changes, such as limiting who can participate and requiring individuals to pay a small premium. To make any changes, he would have to apply for a waiver through the federal government.

Senate President Robert Stivers (R) estimates it will cost Kentucky $250 million over the next two years to fund the Medicaid expansion plan. In January, Kentucky lawmakers will vote on a two-year spending plan that must include this amount. Although the vote would allow Republican senators to block the proposed funding, Sen. Stivers said they don't intend to do so.

"Just as Gov. Beshear implemented by executive order, Gov. Bevin can deal by executive order," Sen. Stivers said. "It's approporiate to see what direction he wants to go. I think you saw this from Gov. Bevin during the campaign as he became more familiar with the issues saying, 'We want to transition, not to just totally stop it.'"

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