A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Medicaid changes will allow Kentucky’s local school districts to expand behavioral health services

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Local school districts will soon be able to hire more licensed psychologists, counselors and other behavioral health professionals, thanks to upcoming Medicaid changes that will allow schools to use federal dollars. Kristi Putnam, deputy secretary of the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services, says schools will be able to offer more supports to help...

Rural hospitals are likely to suffer from limit on payments for Medicaid and unisured patients

Many if not most rural hospitals are likely to take a hit from an Aug. 13 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. “Hospitals that care for a large share of Medicaid, low-income and uninsured patients stand to receive less funding from the federal government after the D.C. Circuit reconsidered how Medicaid disproportionate-share hospital reimbursement is calculated,”...

CHFS launches new Medicaid program to help members obtain commercial insurance

In line with its commitment to support improved health outcomes for Kentuckians, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) has launched a new Medicaid program. The Kentucky Integrated Health Insurance Premium Payment (KI-HIPP) program helps eligible Medicaid members cover the cost of an employer-sponsored health insurance plan. Kentuckians qualify for KI-HIPP if they or a member of their...

Report shows Ky. lawmakers fall short on cancer-fighting policies; state tops nation in cancer deaths

Kentucky is falling short when it comes to implementing policies and passing legislation to prevent, reduce suffering and death from cancer, according to the latest edition of “How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality.” “This report shows that we must do more to reduce suffering and death from cancer. But we have the power...

CHFS, KDE leaders visit Dayspring Health Clinic, a possible beneficiary of proposed Medicaid plan

Kentucky is optimistic that phased-in implementation of expanded school health services will be possible during the 2019-20 school year, through a Medicaid state amendment known as “Free Care.” Leaders from the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) traveled to Williamsburg Independent School District (WISD) on Wednesday. The visit...

Deep study finds only 36% affected by Ky’s proposed Medicaid work rule aren’t meeting them already

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Gov. Matt Bevin says “hundreds of thousands” of able-bodied adult Kentuckians on Medicaid should be working but choose not to. But when his new Medicaid “community engagement” rules were set to kick in last July, only about 48,000 people on the program were short of meeting the requirements, according to a study of Medicaid records and...

State says it won’t tolerate poor treatment of independent pharmacies in Medicaid program

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky legislators were assured last week that the state is committed to resolving the payment issues that the states’ independent pharmacies have with pharmacy benefit managers in Medicaid, issues that the pharmacies have said are so bad they threaten their survival. “We are not going to tolerate it, and we will do whatever we have to do to ensure...

Jason Dunn: Kentucky knows SNAP work reporting requirement isn’t working, and here’s why

Food assistance through the SNAP program has been getting harder for some low-income Kentuckians to access during the past year because of new work reporting requirements. Thousands of families have lost benefits as a result. As changes to the SNAP program started taking effect over the last year, we have maintained that mandatory work reporting requirements create bureaucratic hurdles and deny people...

Medicaid waiver to expand coverage, increase care access for Kentuckians with Substance Use Disorder

The Commonwealth of Kentucky is set to expand access to treatment and recovery services for individuals with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) through a portion of its 1115 Medicaid demonstration waiver, beginning July 1. This program further amplifies the Commonwealth’s overall efforts to fight the opioid crisis, as well as other substance addictions. With Kentucky’s commitment to combatting opioid,...

Bluegrass Care Navigators offers new pediatric palliative care program called Bright Path

Bluegrass Care Navigators is offering a new service called Bright Path, a pediatric palliative care program serving central, northern and eastern Kentucky counties. Bright Path offers specialized medical care for infants, children, adolescents, and young adults who are living with a serious illness. The goal of Bright Path is to provide comfort to these children through symptom management and care...

Here’s a new tool to track ongoing changes to state’s Medicaid program, includes county enrollment data

Kentucky has a new website that shows an up-to-date timeline of all the changes in the state’s Medicaid program since 2014; provides links to Medicaid resources such as contracts, court documents, state notices and research; and provides a place for people to share stories about how changes to the program have affected them or their loved ones. It also provides Kentucky-specific Medicaid data,...

BBB Trends: It’s Military Appreciation Month, veterans; advice — beware of pension poachers

By Sandra Guile Better Business Bureau May is National Military Appreciation Month, an observance that encourages citizens to honor current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and those that perished in the line of duty in pursuit of American freedom. But even the noblest of ideals won’t deter unscrupulous individuals out there looking to make a few quick bucks or steal the identity of the...

As school nurse programs are threatened, medicaid money made available for physical, behavioral health

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Many of Kentucky’s school districts have long struggled to pay for school nurses, let alone professionals in behavioral health care. And now some health departments may no longer be able to provide nurses because they will have to pay more into their employees’ pension system. Deputy Secretary Kristi Putnam (Photo from KHN) But schools are about to...

Federal judge’s ruling blocking Medicaid work requirements leaves many confused about eligibility

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service The Kentucky HEALTH program, which would have required Medicaid recipients to work or volunteer in order to get health coverage, will not begin this week. A federal judge recently blocked implementation of the program, originally slated to go into effect Mon., Apr. 1. And yet, many Commonwealth residents remain confused about their eligibility. The state says Medicaid...

Judge again blocks Ky’s Medicaid plan with work requirements; Bevin administration eyes ‘next steps’

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News A federal judge in Washington has again blocked Gov. Matt Bevin’s attempts to require many people on Medicaid to work or do other forms of “community engagement,” saying that such rules don’t square with Medicaid’s objective to give low-income people health care. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg also ruled March 27 against similar...

Beshear investigating pharmacy benefits managers for over-billing, discrimination against independents

Attorney General Andy Beshear announced March 21 that he is investigating pharmacy benefit managers, the “middlemen” between drug companies and health insurers, including Kentucky’s Medicaid program and state-employee health plan. Beshear is investigating whether PBMs have overcharged the state “and discriminated against independent pharmacies,” his office said in a press...

Kentucky is first in nation for use of antibiotics, new awareness campaign aims to curb inappropriate use

Kentucky has the highest rate of antibiotic use in the United States, and the University of Louisville School of Medicine is trying to do something about it. The school’s Department of Pediatrics has mounted a campaign to highlight the need for education and awareness on antibiotic overuse in Kentucky, and to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics in the state. “Although antibiotics are important...

Kentucky senate to take up two separate bills proposing additions to Medicaid coverage

Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service Two new bills introduced in the Kentucky Senate would require Medicaid to cover dental and eye doctor visits and would prohibit healthcare providers from charging co-pays to Medicaid recipients. Current dental coverage for Kentucky adults receiving Medicaid is limited. Senate Bill 78 would allow them the same range of dental care as children and young adults, including...

New Department of Medicaid Services recommends increased regulation of Pharmacy Benefit Managers

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services Department for Medicaid Services (DMS) and Office of Health Data and Analytics has released a new report on the state’s pharmacy benefit program. “MEDICAID PHARMACY PRICING: Opening the Black Box”  looks at the impact and role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), which serve as intermediaries between Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) and pharmacies....

CHFS releases updated Medicaid budget predictions, Kentucky HEALTH timeline for 2019

The Cabinet for Health and Family Services has released updated guidance regarding the implementation of Kentucky HEALTH, which was re-approved in November by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The new information includes updated implementation milestones for various components of Kentucky HEALTH that will be phased-in during 2019. On April 1, Kentucky HEALTH will begin with many...