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Medicaid Expansion Fueling Lobbying Increase, Report Suggests

LRC Public Information

Both the House and Senate versions of the two-year state budget include billions more in federal and state dollars than the previous spending plan passed in 2014 – and the boost appears to be driving yet another increase in lobbying.

Lobbying spending has broken records on an almost yearly basis the past few cycles and looks poised to do so again in 2016. This time one of the key drivers is spending by healthcare-related industries, which have accounted for more than a fourth of all spending in the first two months of the current session. That's according to the Legislative Ethics Commission's most recent newsletter.

LEC spokesman John Schaaf says with close to $5 billion more in federal dollars directed to Medicaid benefits than the last budget it’s no mystery why some groups might want an increased presence in Frankfort.

"So you have more interests which want to get in a position to possibly benefit from some of that money that's paid out, particularly in Medicaid," he says.

Gov. Matt Bevin shielded Medicaid spending from his annual 9 percent cuts in his budget while seeking a federal waiver that would allow Kentucky to renegotiate the expansion approved under former Gov. Steve Beshear in the hopes of paring down costs for the state.

In all, health-related lobbying has ramped up by about 30 percent this session compared with the same period in 2014.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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