A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

As Kentucky prepares to begin new Medicaid program resources provide more information

Kentucky will be phasing in its new Medicaid program in July, so the state and other stakeholders have created tools and “explainers” to help Medicaid enrollees and others understand the changes and deal with them. The program is expected to be fully implemented by the end of the year.

The state’s new Medicaid plan, called Kentucky HEALTH for “Helping to Engage and Achieve Long-Term Health,” includes, among other things: work or training requirements, reporting changes in status, lock-out periods for failure to comply, and premiums and co-payments. The changes will largely impact “able-bodied” Kentuckians who have gained Medicaid coverage through the expansion, which covers people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

An interactive tool the state doesn’t like

(Click to view waiver calculator)

WFPL, a public radio station in Louisville, has created an interactive tool called “Kentucky Medicaid Waiver Calculator,” to help Medicaid enrollees and others figure out how it will affect them, based on family size, income and other factors.

“It breaks down the changes for people in various situations in a straight-forward way, arming Medicaid enrollees with more information before the changes kick in on July 1,” Lisa Gillespie and Alexandra Kanik, who jointly created the calculator, report for WFPL.

After consulting several health policy experts to assure the accuracy of the tool, Gillespie and Kanik write that they reached out to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, but cabinet spokesman Doug Hogan declined and threw cold water on the whole thing: “Any tool created outside of this system would most certainly provide inaccurate information to current and potential beneficiaries.”

The interactive tool will be updated as more is learned about the affected populations, Gillespie and Kanik report. They add that “the best way to get information on eligibility and current benefits is through Benefind,” the state’s online portal.

Stakeholder Advisory Forums

Officials have announced 10 public “stakeholder advisory forums” to help ease the transition to the new plan. The next one will be held at 1 p.m. May 3 at the Transportation Cabinet auditorium on Mero Street in Frankfort.

The state has published a Kentucky HEALTH overview that includes answers to frequently asked questions; it is online at kentuckyhealth.ky.gov.

The state has also recently sent postcards to eligible Kentucky HEALTH adults to inform them on how to start earning money into their My Rewards account, which allows beneficiaries to earn “virtual reward dollars” by doing preventive screenings, health classes, volunteering, job training and other activities that can be used to “buy” services like dental and vision care, among other things.

Kentucky Voices for Health, an advocacy coalition that has voiced concern about the changes, has created two “explainers” on Kentucky HEALTH, one in two pages and a more detailed version in four pages.

Insurers are also gearing up

The state is offering provider forums for Medicaid managed-care organizations, and two of the five MCOs, Passport Health Plan and Wellcare Health Plans, are offering workshops for health-care providers on the changes.

Wellcare President Bill Jones said in a news release that his firm has been working closely with the state to prepare for the changes, including efforts to be able to connect Kentuckians with the job training or volunteer opportunities they will need under the new program.

“From revamping our website, so people can easily check whether they’re meeting the requirements of Kentucky HEALTH, to enhancing the training of the people taking questions by phone, we are working to ensure a seamless experience for our members,” Jones said.

From Kentucky Health News

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