Judge blocks first-in-nation 1115 Medicaid waiver in Kentucky

06/29/2018 04:29 PM

UPDATED: Days before the Cabinet for Health and Family Services was set to roll out major changes to Medicaid, including a work requirement for some in the program, a federal judge blocked its implementation.

The ruling deals a blow to the Kentucky 1115 innovation waiver pushed for by Gov. Bevin, which the court ruled would change the fundamental purpose of the program.

With a tweet from Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, on Friday evening the Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced the decision would delay the implementation of Kentucky HEALTH, and they would “have no choice but to make significant benefit reductions.”

On June 19, Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Adam Meier said among the options on the table for the cabinet was ending dental and vision coverage and at most dropping the expansion population — which was set forth by Gov. Steve Beshear, D-Kentucky, under executive order.

“Kentucky Voices for Health and our partners applaud the court’s decision to support Kentuckians on Medicaid by refusing to create additional barriers,” said Emily Beauregard, executive director for Kentucky Voices for Health. “Kentucky’s Medicaid population consists of hardworking parents, caregivers, and other community members who need access to healthcare. During the waiver comment period, over 3,000 Kentuckians voiced their opinion on the devastating effects of this policy, and the court heard those voices.”

Kentucky Democratic Party chairman Ben Self also applauded the ruling.

“Reason has prevailed once again against Gov. Bevin and the Republican majority’s attack on everyday Kentuckians,” Self said in a statement. “Bevin’s work requirements for Medicaid recipients was not only immoral but goes against who our leaders should stand up for and who we are as Kentuckians.”

The Republican Party of Kentucky said there’s not enough money in the state to pay for current obligations.

“Democrats expanded Medicaid by Executive Order while ignoring our growing pension crisis; making politically motivated promises to Kentucky families, teachers and state employees that they knew they’d never be able to fulfill,” Communications Director Tres Watson said in a statement. “Republicans are working to find a way to deliver on as many of those promises as possible but the money simply isn’t there to sustain the status quo.”

Four states — Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas, and New Hampshire all have Medicaid waivers which include the work requirement provision. Seven other states have proposals waiting for review by the federal government.

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