Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher Announces Health Care Agenda for the 2008 Session of the General Assembly

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, August 29, 2007  
Contact Information:  Jodi Whitaker

Vikki Franklin

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Building on efforts to transform Kentucky’s health care system, Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced details of his health care agenda for the 2008 session of the General Assembly.

“Our strong financial situation allows us to do more to help every Kentuckian be healthy and have access to health care when they need it,” said Governor Fletcher. “We have made significant gains in helping Kentucky families with more available, affordable health care. I want to see those efforts continue in the 2008 legislative session. We want every Kentuckian to have the choice of affordable and available health care.”

These proposals center on assuring affordable health care and reducing the number of uninsured:

Small Business Insurance – Expand and make permanent the ICARE (Insurance Coverage Affordability and Relief for Small Employers) program to businesses with 2-50 employees. This program currently provides small businesses with 2-25 employees assistance with health insurance premiums.

ICARExchange – ICARExchange would expand opportunities for individuals and small employers to access more affordable health insurance coverage by providing a small business with the same administrative options as a large business and improving access to health care providers. The program would also create a clearinghouse for health care information and access to available services.

ICARE 4 Kids – Seek federal approval for a new program, ICARE 4 Kids, to support moderate income Kentucky families and their employers by making private health insurance more affordable. The ICARE 4 Kids program would provide premium assistance to families and employers through an expansion of the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP). Plans also include continuing to increase access to important preventive dental care for Kentucky children.

Wellness Tax Credits – Create incentives for Kentucky businesses to offer comprehensive wellness programs for their employees.

Coverage for Working Individuals with Disabilities – Remove barriers to employment by allowing working individuals with disabilities to “buy-in” to Medicaid.

Improve Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services – Ensure funding for mental health and substance abuse services, including a replacement campus for Eastern State Hospital in Lexington.

Electronic Health Records - Expand e-Health funding to assist health care providers to adopt electronic medical records and ensure there is a secure, statewide network to allow those records to be appropriately exchanged.

“Every Kentuckian in the next four years should have the choice of having an electronic medical record that would be available to them and their doctors to ensure the best quality and most efficient health care,” said Governor Fletcher.

Medical Liability Reform – Place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would allow the General Assembly to pass laws on medical liability reform; allow alternative dispute mechanisms to settle liability cases, such as arbitration and a medical review board; and modify requirements for medical liability carriers to make sure liability carriers’ premium increases are fair and reasonable.

“Through our work in areas such as Medicaid modernization, ICARE and Get Healthy Kentucky, we have made remarkable changes and modernized Kentucky’s health care system,” said Governor Fletcher. “My 2008 legislative agenda builds on that progress.”

Recently, a Kaiser Family Foundation report ranked Kentucky No. 1 in the nation in the growth of the number of people who have private health insurance through their employers. Kentucky also ranked fourth in the percentage drop in the number of uninsured.

““Kentucky has received national attention for our innovative health care efforts, but what truly matters is that we are improving the lives of Kentuckians and their families,” said Governor Fletcher. “By continuing to focus attention on improving the affordability and availability of health care, empowering people to make good health decisions, and making both children and adults healthier, we are ensuring continued progress for future generations.”