A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

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 to provide medical coverage to the poor and working poor.”

Gov. Matt Bevin had his Medicaid rules requirements nixed by a federal judge on Friday. Dental and vision benefits were taken away Monday but Democrat leaders say it’s illegal. (LRC photo)

A federal judge in Washington threw out the “community engagement” aspect of Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver on Friday, which mandated 80 hours per month of work, education, job training or community service for recipients.  The action halted the state’s new Medicaid program, which was supposed to take effect on Sunday in northern Kentucky, then spread throughout the state in the coming months.  Traditional Medicaid recipients were exempt from the requirement.

The website for the program, kentuckyhealth.ky.gov, posted this update over the weekend: “As of July 1, 2018, your medical benefits will continue as they were prior to July 1, 2018, with no change.  However, if you received a notice saying you could access vision and dental services through a My Rewards Account, you will not have access to dental and vision benefits.  The legal decision has stopped the ability to use the My Rewards dollars to purchase dental and vision services.”
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Medicaid is crucial to holding down future healthcare costs.

”When a healthcare situation goes unsolved today, it costs ten times as much to deal with in the future,” he said. “For those who say they are doing this for economic responsibility, I would say, ‘Wake up and use some common sense.  See where your people are and understand what it costs to go to the emergency room, rather than to a clinic like this.’”

State Rep. Joni Jenkins, D-Shively, said they thought they’d be celebrating Friday’s court ruling, but that’s not the case. 

“I saw a lovely dental clinic that is empty right now and may remain empty, with these benefits being pulled out from under folks.  Folks who made dental appointments weeks and months ago, now are faced with not knowing if that service will be offered to them, and whether or not providers will be reimbursed by Medicaid.”

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokesman Doug Hogan said his agency is working through impacts from the judge’s order.

“We hope that we can work together to quickly resolve the fallout from the court ruling,” Hogan said.

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