Governor Bevin has abruptly cut vision and dental benefits from Kentucky’s expanded Medicaid program in the wake of a federal court decision that blocked the state’s request to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries. The cuts impact nearly 500,000 people.
As CivSource previously reported, Bevin threatened to cut benefits if the court didn’t rule his way. Bevin says that the Medicaid expansion, implemented during the previous administration is unsustainable.
Prior to the court decision, Bevin’s Medicaid changes would have had Kentucky residents accrue “rewards points” toward dental and vision care by completing online classes or volunteering. The decision handed down on Friday vacated the rewards program as well as work requirements. Without the rewards program in place, dental and vision benefits were terminated on July 1.
Bevin made work, education and volunteering requirements a key part of his Medicaid overhaul, arguing that the state should get something in return for insuring “able-bodied adults”. The reform plan also included implementing premium payments for Medicaid on a sliding scale based on income. The premiums ranged from $1-15 per month.
In a statement released late on Friday, Cabinet for Health & Family Services (CHFS) Secretary Adam Meier said “Able-bodied Kentuckians deserve to have a stake in their health and will benefit from the dignity that comes from career training, education, and volunteer opportunities that are available as part of Kentucky HEALTH’s community engagement program. We will fight to preserve these opportunities for our citizens so that we can proceed with the only viable path forward for expanded Medicaid in Kentucky.”
This is not the only controversial plan Bevin has advanced as part of his legislative agenda. Courts are also reviewing a controversial state pension overhaul plan Bevin put forward that would significantly change the benefits available to Kentucky teachers.