Kentucky Gov. Bevin Pitches Medicaid ‘HEALTH’ Plan

Published September 12, 2017

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has gone on the road to answer voters’ questions about proposed state Medicaid reforms.

On July 14 and 17, Bevin and Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services representatives held public forums in two cities to educate voters about the Helping to Engage and Achieve Long-Term Health (HEALTH) proposal, a Section 1115 waiver application submitted to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on July 3.

Section 1115, a provision of the Social Security Act of 1935, authorizes CMS to approve state-led reforms such as cost-reduction programs or eligibility changes.

Kentucky’s application amends a request sent on August 24, 2016, which would have created work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients.

If CMS approves the plan, Kentucky Medicaid recipients will be required to pay between $1 and $15 in monthly premiums.

Considers Co-Pay a Bargain

Jim Waters, president of the Bluegrass Institute, says the premium requirement would not be a burden to recipients.

“The most anyone would have to pay, in terms of a Medicaid premium, is $15 a month, certainly much less than the cost of a cell phone or cable TV, which most people have,” Waters said. “That’s $180 a year,… not bad for receiving the same kind of care that state workers get.”

Freeing Up Resources

HEALTH would also help lawmakers solve the state’s looming budget crisis, Waters says.

 “While $15 a month is not much at all, it would greatly help keep Medicaid from making Kentucky broke, and would create a sense of responsibility among its participants,” Waters said. “Bevin’s plan would save Kentucky more than $330 million, which is badly needed, considering we have a public pension crisis second only in severity to neighboring Illinois.”

Promoting Self-Sufficiency

The proposed work requirements would help people get back to work, says Ben Gitis, director of labor market policy at American Action Forum.

“The work requirements under consideration … would basically require able-bodied people to either work or engage in a work-related activity,” Gitis said. “That means you can have a job, be looking for a job, be doing community service, or be a student, and you would meet these work requirements. It would essentially be ensuring that, to meet this requirement, you would be engaging in a productive way in our economy.”