Bevin submits proposal to overhaul Kentucky's Medicaid program

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Governor Matt Bevin has submitted his proposal to revamp Kentucky's Medicaid program to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The waiver, called Kentucky HEALTH (Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health), came after weeks of research and input from people across Kentucky.

Back in June, Governor Bevin announced he would overhaul expanded Medicaid in Kentucky because the program was costing the state too much money. As part of the plan, Kentuckians on Medicaid would have to complete community engagement and employment hours in order to maintain healthcare. HEALTH would also remove basic dental and vision care.

The governor hosted several town hall meetings to get input from Kentuckians. He says as a result the following changes were made to the program:

• In response to the topic that received the most comments by far: allergy testing and private duty nursing will continue to be covered services.
• The implementation of changes to the dental and vision benefit will be delayed by three months to allow members additional time to accrue funds in their My Rewards Account.
• Individuals determined "medically frail" will be exempt from required premiums and copayments.
• GED testing costs will be added as an additional covered benefit for Kentucky HEALTH members.
• The list of activities resulting in contributions to the My Rewards Account will be expanded to include caretaking responsibilities, passing the GED and ensuring children receive recommended preventative services, like immunizations.
• Sliding scale premiums will be collected on a household basis (not individual basis).

The governor says benefits will not change for children, pregnant women, medically frail and adults who were eligible for Medicaid before the expansion put in place by former Governor Steve Beshear. He also says that full-time students or anyone working more than 20 hours per week are already meeting the community engagement and employment requirements. Disabled individuals receiving waivers or SSI will not be impacted by the waiver.

Now that the waiver has been submitted, the Centers For Medicaid and Medicare Services has 15 days to acknowledge the waiver has been submitted correctly. Following that, there will a 30-day federal comment period similar to the one Kentucky held. After that period, the Secretary of Health and Human Services may approve the waiver.

Marjorie Connolly, National Press Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said, "Kentucky's Medicaid expansion has been very successful in improving health coverage, access to care, health outcomes, and financial security for its citizens. HHS has been clear that, as we begin the review of this application, we will assess it based on longstanding Medicaid principles of access to coverage and affordability of care. As in other states, we are prepared to continue dialogue for as long as it takes to find a solution that maintains and builds on Kentucky's historic progress, and avoids moving backwards."

In the past, Governor Bevin has said if the waiver is denied, he will eliminate the state's expanded Medicaid program.

In a news release issued on Wednesday, Governor Bevin also announced that Kentucky taxpayers will pick up a portion of the costs for the expanded Medicaid program beginning next year. Bevin says the Beshear administration added $1.2 billion in new state spending without putting a plan in place to pay for it.

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