A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky’s new oral health plan calls for expanded roles for hygienists, expanded dental workforce

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky’s new plan for oral health calls for the state to expand the role of public-health hygienists, find other ways to expand the dental workforce in under-served areas, and raise dentists’ Medicaid fees. And to pay for part of the plan, it calls for a tax on soft drinks that cause tooth decay. The challenge is that all of these suggestions require...

House Democratic Caucus asks state health officials for detail on how, why Medicaid benefits removed

In a letter sent Tuesday to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the House Democratic Caucus called on Secretary Adam Meier to offer a more detailed explanation about recent actions that removed three key health benefits for 460,000 Kentuckians enrolled in Medicaid. (Click to read full letter) The letter, which was signed by all 37 House Democrats, was initiated by state Representatives Joni...

State provides Q&A sheet to providers, patients in wake of ruling blocking Medicaid plan

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News As the Cabinet for Health and Family Services scrambles to deal with the fall-out from a court ruling that vacated the state’s new Medicaid plan, which was set to go into place Sunday, July 1, its call centers and front-line staff are using a new question-and-answer document to help health-care providers advise their Medicaid clients. The document says...

Democrats claim Bevin’s requirement that able-bodied Medicaid recipients must work is illegal

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Democrats claimed Monday that actions by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration to require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work are illegal. 

A contingent of Democratic leaders led by U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth made the claim at a press conference outside a Louisville health clinic.

“Medicaid is not a work program,” Yarmuth said.  “It is a program...

John Schickel: Kentucky’s pension crisis, budget ‘explosion’ remain state’s major issues

Benjamin Franklin is said to have said “when people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of a republic.” I hope and pray that is not where we are as a country, but recent developments in Frankfort this year would tend to indicate we are heading down that path. Next to the pension crisis, the explosion in the budget to cover Medicaid — a jointly funded, Federal-State...

Agencies offering new resources for state’s Medicaid recipients transitioning to Kentucky HEALTH

Kentucky HEALTH, the Commonwealth’s new program for certain able-bodied adults receiving Medicaid, begins on July 1, and several state agencies are working to make the transition as smooth as possible for those recipients. “We have numerous print and digital resources now available that will help the people of the Commonwealth understand and take advantage of Kentucky’s new Medicaid program,”...

Ashley Spalding: To improve health through work, Kentucky needs to commit to better job quality

With the state’s new barriers to Medicaid coverage soon to be erected under the guise of encouraging work, we’ve heard a lot in Kentucky recently about the health benefits of working. Besides the fact that revoking coverage for low-income Kentuckians who fail to meet a work requirement has been shown as ineffective in promoting employment, these barriers do nothing to improve the low quality of...

Beshear fighting temporary injunction request seeking to halt nation’s health care system

Attorney General Andy Beshear is fighting a request for a temporary injunction filed this week by a group of states seeking to halt the nation’s health care system while an ongoing lawsuit on the issue plays out in federal court. Beshear Beshear and a group of state attorneys general are intervening in the lawsuit – Texas et al. v. United States et al. – that claims the ACA is unconstitutional...

State Medicaid work requirements begin July 1; Northern Ky. counties first to implement changes

Kentucky’s new work requirements for “able-bodied” Medicaid recipients will be phased in slowly, with the three main Northern Kentucky counties leading the way. Campbell County will be the first to instigate the new “community engagement” requirements on July 1, followed by Boone County on Aug. 1 and Kenton County on Sept. 1. After that, large groups of counties are to...

Kentucky Department for Community Based Services celebrates opening of new Perry County office

The Kentucky Department for Community Based Services officially opened its new Perry County office this week with a reception and tour of the facility on Highway 15 in Hazard. DCBS is the agency that provides child and adult protective services and determines eligibility for Medicaid, welfare assistance, child-care assistance, food stamps and other programs. “Our priority is to provide quality and...

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...

Critics say new Medicaid rules will result in greater loss of coverage than Bevin administration estimates

Changes in the state Medicaid program, to be phased in starting July 1, would lead to many more people losing health coverage than the state has estimated, 43 academic experts say in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in a lawsuit challenging federal officials’ approval of the changes. The experts argue that the changes are “likely to remove at least twice as many beneficiaries in the first...

Legislature sends governor Medicaid drug measures to help independent pharmacies and consumers

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A bill to allow pharmacists to tell their patients the least expensive way to pay for their medications and one to put the state back in direct charge of its Medicaid drug program have received final passage and are on the desk of Gov. Matt Bevin. Sen. Wise A revised version of Senate Bill 5, sponsored by Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, would put the Medicaid...

Stakeholder advisory forums to engage public in the Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid transformation

The Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid Transformation Leadership Team today announced the scheduling of public stakeholder advisory forums. The purpose of these stakeholder advisory forums will be to provide an avenue for constructive feedback and solutions to help ensure a successful transition for Medicaid beneficiaries eligible for the new health and well-being program. “Throughout the past year and half,...

Kentucky Health Issues Poll: One in four Kentucky adults concerned about losing health insurance

Click for larger image Twenty-four percent of Kentucky adults ages 18-64 are concerned they may lose their health coverage, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP). Due in part to Medicaid expansion, public insurance coverage has increased from 29 percent in 2016 to 35 percent in 2017, but 15 percent of Kentucky adults have no health coverage and an additional 6 percent currently...

Bill aimed at returning control of Medicaid pharmacy back to state advancing, despite cost warnings

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A bill to put the state back in charge of its Medicaid drug program has cleared the Senate health committee and now heads to the full Senate for a vote, but with what will likely be a “winding road” to its final passage, according to its sponsor. Its main obstacle appears to be cost, but it could force more transparency in the shadowy process of making...

Pew Trusts: Trump administration’s historic move to retool Medicaid goes beyond work requirements

By Michael Ollove Special to KyForward Requiring able-bodied adults to work for their Medicaid is just part of the Trump administration’s drive to remake the decades-old health insurance program for the poor. The administration signaled late last year that it welcomes state-based ideas to retool Medicaid and “help individuals live up to their highest potential.” At least 10 states have requested...

In a state thick with cancer, threatened research and screening organizations make cases for state money

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget for the next two fiscal years calls for cuts to five cancer research and prevention programs, including screenings for breast, colon, cervical, lung and ovarian cancer, and for research on lung cancer, all of which plague the state. The programs are included in a list of 70 that Bevin proposed to eliminate to save the state...

Critics say new insurance policy denying ‘non-essential’ ER visits expects patients to self-diagnose

Anthem, one of the country’s largest insurance companies, is increasingly denying coverage for emergency room visits it deems inappropriate–i.e., not true emergencies. The policy, which has been implemented in Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia and Missouri, exempts patients younger than 15, weekend visits, and patients who live 15 miles or father from an urgent care center. Other patients can...

Medicaid enrollees sue federal agencies, officials, alleging Ky Medicaid changes violated the law

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Sixteen Kentucky Medicaid enrollees filed a class-action lawsuit in Washington Wednesday, claiming that federal officials violated federal law this month by approving changes to Kentucky Medicaid and declaring their intent to approve similar changes in other states. The lawsuit alleges that work requirements in the program, to be phased in starting July 1, “sharply...