The Health Care Access Committee
In May 1983, a farmer from Midway, Ky., Brereton C. Jones, chaired a special statewide committee that was charged with identifying issues and focusing on solutions to the developing medically indigent patient crisis in Kentucky. The committee held 11 meetings and heard testimony from 26 groups and individuals who responded to public invitations to appear at the open meetings. The result was 26 recommendations from which the Kentucky Health Care Access Foundation, Inc. — now called Health Kentucky — and its programs evolved.
The Growing Indigent Health Care Crisis
By 1984, the indigents’ access to quality health care was recognized as a growing national problem. At that time in Kentucky, an estimated 700,000 people — or about 19 percent of the state’s entire population — had no public or private health insurance. Approximately half of these people had incomes below the federal poverty level.
It was reported that some Kentucky citizens were actually being refused access to medically necessary care or elected not to seek care because of financial reasons. It’s significant that of those who were uninsured, approximately half were employed or were in families with an employed parent.
The Kentucky Health Care Access Foundation, Inc. was established in 1984 as a private initiative, nonprofit 501 (c)(3), charitable and educational organization. Its purpose is to:
Assist in obtaining access to high-quality health care for uninsured Kentuckians with incomes at or below the federal poverty level who do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid or have other resources.
To collect, analyze and publish appropriate studies and other information specifically dealing with health care access.
To finance those activities through private, tax-deductible contributions and grants.
Since the organization’s inception, it has continuously received strong support from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville medical centers and the Commonwealth of Kentucky Cabinet for Health Services. While Health Kentucky receives no public funding, the Cabinet screens applicants for eligibility into the Kentucky Physicians Care Program through its Department for Community Based Services, located in each of Kentucky’s 120 counties and various approved Health Kentucky satellite sites located throughout the state. In addition, the Cabinet for Health Services began managing the statewide toll-free hot line in 1994, increasing the number of phone lines open to eligible callers.