More than 10 percent of Kentuckians could lose Medicaid vision and dental coverage this month after a judge struck down Gov. Matt Bevin’s attempt to overhaul his state’s plan.
U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg ruled against the plan, saying that the state may not require poor people to work in order to hold on to benefits. But the governor said the plan costs too much to go on as-is.
Kentucky expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act while Democrat Steve Beshear was governor. Now the joint state-federal insurance program faces a shortfall of $300 million for the upcoming two years, with over 460,000 people enrolled.
Kentucky Health Secretary Adam Meier said vision and dental insurance would fall by the wayside as “significant benefit reductions” after the federal judge’s ruling took the teeth out of Bevin’s solution, which would have imposed a work requirement of 80 hours per month on beneficiaries and allowed monthly premiums. The work requirement was officially titled “community engagement” and had been approved by Health and Human Services for adults 19 to 64 years old, with exceptions. Working, training, volunteering, or even studying would have fulfilled the requirement. But Boasberg objected again and said “95,000 would lose Medicaid coverage.”
Michigan and Virginia have already approved work requirements for Medicaid, and another eight states seek the same conditions. But the Kentucky ruling may affect those efforts.
The stir-up over Medicaid comes less than a month after nearly 400 activists with the Poor People’s Campaign demonstrated against poverty at the Kentucky Capitol in Frankfort. A recent two-at-a-time entry rule prevented the group from going into the Capitol together since they had no permit to carry out a demonstration inside. —R.H.