Ky. Governor Eliminates Dental, Vision Coverage For 460K On Medicaid

Desiree Burns
July 6, 2018

A federal court struck a major blow on Friday against the Trump administration's crusade for Medicaid work requirements - a pillar of the government's health care agenda.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ruled that Mr. Bevin's work requirements outlined in the Kentucky HEALTH plan did not adequately help provide medical assistance to state residents, the central aim of Medicaid.

Bevin spokeswoman Elizabeth Kuhn said the Medicaid changes had offered "a sustainable path" to provide the dental and vision benefits, but said the judge's ruling means there's "no longer a viable method" to provide the services.

That explanation isn't cutting it for critics calling the Republican state administration's decision a malicious response to the federal court's ruling.

Many legislators came out against the move by the Bevins administration and said they plan to protest the decision.

Former Obama administration CMS chief Andy Slavitt said Bevin is "sending a message and using his power to make sure people suffer".

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"We have folks that are showing up for dental appointments that they made months ago and neither they nor the providers are really certain what the rules are", she said.

"We know that untreated dental pain is a huge gateway to addiction to painkillers", Jenkins said. "I think that's a question to be resolved in the courts".

The debate goes well beyond Medicaid, the federal-state health program for low-income and disabled people. Kentucky, under former Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, was one of 32 states that did so, and almost 500,000 Kentuckians got Medicaid coverage as a result. However, CHFS released a statement following news coverage on July 2 arguing that the cuts are a temporary problem, that fewer than 10% of Medicaid beneficiaries have taken advantage of their dental and vision coverage, and that the Cabinet only had "30 hours to undo 1 ½ years of meticulous planning".

A statement Sunday from the Kentucky Health Cabinet said benefit reductions would be required to compensate for the increasing costs of expanded Medicaid.

He also said that premiums will rise as a result of the cuts.

Under the governor's Medicaid proposal, in addition to the work benefits, enrollees would have had to obtain dental and vision benefits by completing activities like taking classes or searching for a job.

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