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Concerns Bevin’s Medicaid Changes Could Undo KY Expansion Success

Medicaid expansion has been very successful in Kentucky, but many are worried Gov. Matt Bevin's proposed changes could undo that. (Gov. Bevin/Youtube)
Medicaid expansion has been very successful in Kentucky, but many are worried Gov. Matt Bevin's proposed changes could undo that. (Gov. Bevin/Youtube)
June 23, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Changes Governor Matt Bevin is proposing for Medicaid would put up barriers to care and could undermine the program's enormous success, say health advocates. Kentucky expanded Medicaid to cover the working poor under the Affordable Care Act. But Bevin now wants federal permission to add premiums and a "community engagement and employment activities" requirement to the program.

Emily Beauregard, executive director for Kentucky Voices for Health, said expansion has worked brilliantly. She said if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It won't work as well if some people are left out.

"When your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers, your family members are covered, it's good for everyone in Kentucky," she said. "It will help us improve the health of our population and, it improves our economy."

Bevin and die-hard Obamacare opponents say the changes are necessary to keep costs under control. The federal government always will pay no less than ninety percent of the cost of covering the expansion population.

Bevin's critics see a hidden threat to Medicaid expansion in his proposal. The federal government has never allowed states to impose employment requirements on the program. But when announcing the plan, Bevin implied he might undo expansion entirely, if the feds don't accept his changes.

"The federal government, Secretary Burwell and her team, will decide if there is expanded Medicaid in the state of Kentucky," Bevin said. "It's as simple as that."

Since Medicaid was expanded, Kentucky has seen the greatest reduction in the rate of uninsured in the country. But Beauregard said when other states have required Medicaid clients to pay premiums, that put care out of reach for many.

"We know that premiums aren't the answer," she added. "Right now Kentucky leads the nation in the decline in the rate of uninsured. We don't want to see Kentucky taking a step backwards."

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - KY