Less than a month to voice opinions on Kentucky Medicaid changes

If you live in Kentucky, you have less than a month to voice your opinions at the federal level about the governor’s new Medicaid plan.

The Medicaid waiver proposal would override the current Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. It’s called H.E.A.L.T.H., which stands for Helping to Engage and Achieve Long-Term Health. Gov. Matt Bevin says: "The proposed demonstration project is part of an overall initiative to transform the Kentucky Medicaid program, empowering individuals to improve their health and well-being while simultaneously ensuring the program’s long-term fiscal sustainability."

Bevin says the current setup is too expensive and will cost taxpayers an estimated $1.2 billion in new spending from 2017 to 2021.

If this new proposal is not approved, he says he’ll cut coverage for the more than 400,000 people in Kentucky who qualified under the expansion in 2013.

The original proposal was changed before submission to the Department of Health and Human Services after a public comment period this summer. There were three public hearings across the state and an online as well as a mail-in comment period.

From those comments, more than 40 percent of Kentuckians were concerned about losing coverage for benefits added in 2014, such as allergy testing. Those benefits were taken out of the original proposal, but now the state says they will not remove those added benefits.

The second topic with the most comments related to premium changes. The governor wants people to pay monthly premiums and either have a job or volunteer in the community to remain eligible for benefits.

They did update the waiver to clarify that premiums equal to 2 percent of household income will be charged on a household, not individual basis.

Two hundred and seven Kentuckians asked about changes to vision and dental coverage. The new proposal eliminates automatic dental and vision benefits for adults. Instead, those services can be covered through a My Rewards account.  In response to public concern, the state is delaying implementation of the benefit change by three months to allow current members to save money into that account. The state says vision and dental benefits will be maintained in the standard benefits for children, pregnant women, medically frail individuals, and any individuals eligible for Medicaid prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

If you want to express your opinion on the proposal, you can submit your comments online. By clicking this link, you will be taken to a government website that allows you to submit comments. They are public. You can also see what other people have commented so far.

To view the complete proposal and Bevin’s application letter, click here.

The public comment period ends Oct. 8. From there, the Department of Health and Human Services will evaluate the proposal and people’s comments before talking to the state about possible approval or changes.

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