FRANKFORT– Highlighting the health challenges facing Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, announced the approval of the new 1115 Medicaid waiver program, Kentucky HEALTH.
The approval of the Medicaid work requirement makes Kentucky the first in the nation to apply work requirements to Medicaid recipients. Nine other states have applied for similar waivers.
“Kentucky will lead the way and show other states how Medicaid can be changed, other states will follow our example.” Bevin said.
Bevin administration officials highlighted the changes to the current Medicaid program Friday afternoon, touting the “Community Engagement Requirement” of the program as a way for Kentuckians to improve health and save the Commonwealth money.
The Community Engagement Initiative requires Kentucky HEALTH members to take part in the Partnering to Advance Training and Health (PATH) Program. It requires for that any able-bodied working age adults complete community engagement activities. Those who are employed full-time, or already receiving SNAP benefits will not be required to complete the program. Women and Children, former foster children, medically frail, full-time students, homeless or primary caregivers are also exempt from the program.
Kentucky HEALTH Plan adds premiums for families ranging from $1-$15 depending on income. A $1,000 state funded deductible account to pay for their $1,000 plan deductible. The first $1,000 of expenses, aside from preventative services, will deduct from that account.
Officials say the changes will apply mainly to “able-bodied” adults included in the Medicaid expansion. Traditional Medicaid adults prior to the expansion will be included in the new Kentucky HEALTH plan and will need to participate in the community engagement requirement. Medically frail adults, former foster youth up to age 26 and pregnant women and children do not have to take part in the Community Engagement requirement.
Bevin has signed an executive order directing the Commissioner of Medicaid to take necessary actions to terminate Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion in the event that a court decision prohibits one or more of the components of the Section 1115 waiver from being implemented, according to a news release.
While the administration is touting this as a plan to create a healthier Kentucky while saving the Commonwealth $2 billion in Medicaid costs, U.S. Representative John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, believes this plan will cause thousands of people to lose Medicaid coverage.
“By approving Governor Bevin’s dangerous and irresponsible Medicaid waiver, the Trump administration has agreed to end health coverage for 95,000 Kentuckians. During the campaign, Bevin pledged to end Kentucky’s highly successful Medicaid expansion, but as governor, he did not have the courage to do it. Instead he is sabotaging it by raising premiums for families who can’t afford them and creating new barriers to coverage that will—by the Governor’s own admission—force tens of thousands of Kentuckians to lose access to life-saving health care. Make no mistake: people will die because of this. Thousands of Kentucky families will face financial ruin. Governor Bevin and President Trump are creating an entirely unnecessary crisis in our Commonwealth for entirely political reasons. It is an unconscionable attack on our state’s health, and I will continue to fight for every Kentuckian to get the health care they need and deserve.” he said in a statement.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, applauded the move in a statement sent after the press conference.
“I applaud CMS and Governor Bevin for recognizing the unaffordable mess left behind by his predecessor and responding with innovative, common-sense steps to engage patients, improve health, and reduce the burden on Kentucky taxpayers,” McConnell said. “Today’s announcement by CMS is a step toward taking the power out of Washington and sending it back to the state while also ensuring the long term fiscal sustainability of the Medicaid program.”
Jefferson County will likely be the first county to see these changes.