Federal judge blocks proposed work requirements for Medicaid in KY

Federal judge blocks proposed work requirements for Medicaid in KY
The judge's ruling blocked work requirements from going into effect April 1 in Kentucky. (Source: Gray TV)

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Despite approval from the Trump administration, a federal judge has once again blocked work requirements for Kentuckians on Medicaid.

Gov. Matt Bevin has been trying to implement the rule for more than a year.

It would call for able-bodied adults to complete 80 hours of “community engagement” per month. People could fulfill the requirement by getting a job, volunteering or going to school to keep receiving their health benefits.

Work requirements, also known as Kentucky HEALTH, were set to go into effect April 1, 2019 after an already lengthy court battle.

The Trump administration approved the plan in January 2018. A federal judge blocked it that summer before it could take effect, saying the state did not carefully consider how work requirements would impact people on Medicaid.

In November 2018, the Trump administration again approved the rule change. A group of Medicaid recipients in Kentucky asked the judge to block the rules in January 2019.

Wednesday, the same federal judge agreed to block the change again, saying the rules would create too many obstacles to health care for low-income people in the state.

Bevin isn’t giving up, saying the state will appeal the decision. He believes the change will help people on Medicaid become self-sufficient.

Secretary Adam Meier of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued the following statement in the wake of the ruling:

“The judge illogically concluded that Medicaid is all about paying for healthcare for as many people as possible without regard to whether this coverage actually makes people healthier. We emphatically disagree because a healthcare program like Medicaid, by its very nature, must take into account whether it improves people’s health. That’s the whole point.

“In Kentucky, we want more than to simply give someone a Medicaid card they can put in their wallet—we want a program that focuses on actually improving health outcomes. And that is what Kentucky HEALTH was designed to do. Kentucky HEALTH is precisely in line with the objectives of the Medicaid program and squarely within the authority of the HHS Secretary to approve.

“Although a setback to our implementation schedule, we believe that we have an excellent record for appeal and are currently considering next steps.”

Kentuckians on Medicaid should have received information in March about their coverage. Information about Kentucky HEALTH, and its going into effect April 1, is no longer accurate. Beneficiaries can get up-to-date information on their coverage at benefind.ky.gov.

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