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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
About 150,000 links of a paper chain are displayed to represent low-income Utahns who currently are unable to pay for basic healthcare at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, March 1, 2013. A rally was held on the steps of the Capitol urging Gov. Gary Herbert to expand Medicaid.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Steve Beshear says Kentucky's Medicaid program will expand to cover hundreds of thousands of additional people.

The program already provides medical coverage to some 800,000 low-income residents. The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand coverage to some 308,000 additional Kentuckians with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or nearly $15,860 for individuals.

Nationally, about 15 million people could eventually be covered if all states expand. But the Supreme Court last year gave states the right to reject the expansion without jeopardizing the rest of their federal Medicaid funds.

Expanded Medicaid will be available starting Jan. 1, and uninsured people can start signing up this fall. So far, 21 states plus Washington, D.C., have accepted the expansion.