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Kentucky's healthcare industry sees major growth spike in 2015, recent data shows

10,500 more people work in the industry in January 2016 than in January 2014, when Medicaid expansion began, data shows.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Data from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the healthcare industry in Kentucky added jobs at a rapid pace in 2015, picking up momentum after showing only modest growth during the first year of the state's Medicaid expansion.

Healthcare jobs were on a slight decline before the state began signing people up for Medicaid expansion. In Kentucky and nationally, hospital employment tapered off slightly as the industry was reorganized and dealt with the impact of cuts in reimbursement rates, according to an analysis of the data by the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

[Also: 10 hospitals form Kentucky Healthcare Collaborative, vows to raise standards of care in the state]

But jobs in healthcare and social assistance started picking up by the fall of 2014, and the trend accelerated dramatically the following year. A total of 10,500 more people work in the industry in January 2016 than in January 2014, when Medicaid expansion began.

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Growth in ambulatory services continued too, and hospitals have tacked on about 2,300 jobs over the past year, the data shows.

Growth in health and social assistance, at 4.6 percent over that timeframe, outpaced the 3.1 percent job growth in all other sectors in Kentucky.

[Also: WellCare Expands Medicaid Benefits in Kentucky to Encourage Preventative Care]

KCEP estimates that $2.9 billion has flowed to providers as of October 2015; uncompensated costs are down considerably, and more people are utilizing preventative health services.

Approximately 428,000 Kentuckians have gained coverage since Medicaid expansion, according to KCEP.

Twitter: @JELagasse