LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A sudden about-face for the Bevin Administration as it restores dental, vision and non-emergency medical transportation for nearly a half-million Kentuckians who lost their Medicaid benefits this summer.
The news on Thursday evening came as a relief for Kentucky's working poor, recipients who were getting benefits and suddenly found themselves without them. But many aren't ready to celebrate just yet.
The outcry from many health advocates, religious groups and politicians came in July, when hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians lost dental and vision benefits after the Bevin Administration made cuts to coverage, citing costs. Those cuts followed a federal judge's rejection of Bevin's overhaul plan for the state's Medicaid program.
In a surprise move on Thursday, the administration changed course.
"They are going to re-implement those benefits." Angela Koch, the Outreach and Education Director for Kentucky Voices for Health, said.
Dental and vision appointments are back on, and providers will be paid by Medicaid retroactive to July 1. A positive step, but many people, like Louisvillian Krista Seymour, fear attempts to overhaul the program will be back.
"The Affordable Care Act and Kentucky's Medicaid expansion saved my life," Seymour said.
Seymour said she's not being dramatic with that statement--she's living with stage four thyroid cancer. In 2014 while working freelance in sports production, Seymour got sick and got into Kentucky's Medicaid program. Four years later, she said her medication is vital.
"It's a medication that if I can't afford or don't have access to or don't take, I will die within six months to a year," she said, "I'm dependent on a pill for the rest of my life."
Seymour is medically frail and was never supposed to lose vision, dental and non-emergency transportation benefits. She said she found herself fighting through red tape like others to prove her condition.
With the possibility of the state's Medicaid overhaul coming back, a federal comment period has opened.
"Those comments matter," Koch said, "the judge attached those comments from the last federal period to his opinion."
Koch said Kentuckians should voice their opinions. The CMS link for comments is here.