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Governor Andy Beshear signs executive order rescinding Matt Bevin’s Medicaid waiver


By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday he is rescinding former Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive order on the Medicaid waiver program and will protect the Medicaid expansion instituted by his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, in 2014.

“The last thing our families need is to pay more for their healthcare coverage, or even worser, to lose that coverage entirely,” Beshear told reporters at a Capitol press conference.

“The waiver would have cost our state hundreds of millions of dollars, raise costs to those that have the least, and around 100,000 Kentuckians would have lost their coverage. My faith teaches me that rescinding this waiver is not only the right thing to do, it is the moral, faith-driven thing to do,” he said.

Gov. Andy Beshear signs an executive order to rescind former Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive order on the Medicaid waiver program. Beshear’s order will protect the Medicaid expansion instituted by his father, former Gov. Steve Beshear, in 2014. (Photo by Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)

Beshear said he believes healthcare is a basic human right and that everyone should be able to take their parents or children to a doctor when they are sick. “For as long as I am Governor, I’ll fight for better healthcare coverage for all of our Kentucky families. This means fighting to lower costs in both Medicaid and for those that are on private healthcare insurance. And specifically, fighting to lower the costs of prescription drugs, starting with insulin.”

He noted Kentucky’s expanded Medicaid program insures more than 479,000 adults.” That’s 479,000 people that are our friends and our family members. We cheer in the stands on Friday night with them, we pray in church on Sunday mornings with them. These are families that we know and we care about.”

Beshear said the action not only helps families, but the state. “If this Medicaid waiver had been fully implemented, it could have cost up to $270 million of taxpayer money. That is significantly more than any other state that has implemented these type of requirements combined. And it would have gutted, if not ended rural health entirely in many parts of our state. That’s how important rescinding this waiver is.”

For those who say the Medicaid waiver work requirement would have encouraged more people to enter the workforce, Beshear stated, “The reality is the vast majority of people on expanded Medicaid are already have one job, if not two jobs. For these people, their employer does not provide private insurance and their income is low enough that they qualify for expanded Medicaid.”

He continued, “The real way to get that we ultimately move people off of expanded Medicaid is through increasing wages for all Kentuckians. It’s to make sure that they have coverage until they are making enough money to support their family inn private health insurance. It’s to make sure we create the types of jobs and encourage the raise in wages that help all of our families across the board.”

Eric Friedlander, Acting Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services said, “This is awesome. This is what it looks like when you care about the health and well-being of every Kentuckian. This is what it looks like when you are concerned about every community across this entire state.”

State Rep. Angie Hatton, D-Whitesburg, said this issue is vital in her part of the state. “For too long, those of us who live in rural southeastern Kentucky have known that often where you live determines if you live. We know that access to health care is tough. It’s tough because of geographical limitations and it’s tough because of the poverty rate where I live.”

Beshear is also looking at re-establishing Kynect, the state-operated health insurance exchange. “I am a huge supporter of the Kynect program,” he said. “We were able to reduce our uninsured population by the largest margin in the nation for three straight years. I am going through the analysis of that.”

When CHFS put out requests for proposals for managed care organizations late in the Bevin Administration, Passport and Anthem were among those whose contracts were not renewed. While the contracts were turned down by the General Assembly’s contract review committee, then-Finance and Administration Secretary William Landrum overruled the legislators and approved them. Beshear says he is taking a look at that action.

“We are still working through that documentation,” he stated. “We don’t have any announcements on it yet. My commitment is to do the right thing, but to make sure that I am informed before we take those steps.”

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