Federal government re-approves work requirements for Kentuckians on Medicaid

Federal government re-approves work requirements for Kentuckians on Medicaid
The newly approved program can begin as soon April 1, 2019.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved the Medicaid waiver known as Kentucky HEALTH, which will bring work requirements for Kentuckians on Medicaid.

Kentucky HEALTH and its work requirements were approved by the Trump administration in January. Over the summer, it was sent back to the federal government for further review as a result of litigation.

Able-bodied adults on Medicaid will be required to complete 80 hours of “community engagement” each month. That could mean work, volunteering or school.

“Kentucky HEALTH offers a customized path based on individual needs that will help beneficiaries gain better health, engagement in their communities, improved employability, and success through long-term independence,” the Cabinet’s secretary, Adam Meier, said in the release. “This individualized approach affords flexibility and procedural protections that will ensure Medicaid is able to provide beneficiaries access to services and opportunities, while utilizing a holistic approach to addressing barriers and challenges that affect overall health.”

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services announced that the newly approved program can begin as soon April 1, 2019.

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Accordingly, the PATH (Partnering to Advance Training and Health) Community Engagement component will be rolled out regionally over several months beginning no sooner than April 1, 2019.

Shortly after the announcement, Governor Matt Bevin released the following statement:

“Kentucky HEALTH is essential to the long-term success of the state’s Medicaid program. This reapproval of the 1115 waiver ensures that the Commonwealth can continue to provide services for the traditional Medicaid beneficiaries, while also offering a path toward improved health outcomes for all recipients. CMS and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services have worked tirelessly for months to finalize this 1115 waiver, and we are pleased that Kentuckyians can now begin to benefit from this innovative and transformative program.”

Following are statements are from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky:

"The Foundation remains committed to assisting Medicaid beneficiaries with their efforts to understand and comply with the waiver's requirements," said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "It will take a collective effort by the state, providers, community organizations, and all those involved with the new Medicaid waiver to ensure Kentuckians are successful in meeting its requirements, so they do not lose health coverage."

Foundation Vice President for Policy Veronica Cecil added: "While there is much work to do, the Foundation's initial efforts are focused on a premium payment assistance program; a stakeholder workgroup to evaluate program inefficiencies and successes, and recommend resolutions to policy, program or system issues; and a collaboration among local and state officials, employers and community organizations to identify community engagement activities.

“Over the past several months, the Foundation has been meeting regularly with the Administration and key stakeholders to develop strategies to best accomplish its singular goal of helping individuals maintain access to health care coverage. The Foundation will be sharing more detailed information on its efforts to support Medicaid beneficiaries as the Administration moves toward implementation.”

While some are in support of the waiver, some are also opposed to it. The consumer group Kentucky Voices for Health issued a statement Tuesday, disagreeing with the re-approval of the waiver.

“Kentucky Voices for Health and our partners are deeply disappointed that CMS and, by extension, the state, have once again ignored the voices of their constituents,” the group’s executive director, Emily Beauregard, said in the statement. “During the 2018 federal comment period, thousands of Kentuckians spoke up to share why access to healthcare is critical to their ability to be good parents and caregivers, productive employees, successful entrepreneurs, and contributing members of their communities. Reapproving a waiver that makes hardworking Kentuckians jump through hoops to keep their coverage will no doubt have the opposite effect.”

Additional details regarding the implementation of Kentucky HEALTH will be available in the coming weeks, the press release stated.

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