LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Matt Bevin wants to completely overhaul the way Kentucky does Medicaid.

At a State Capitol news conference, he unwrapped a major Medicaid makeover that gets those who receive benefits much more involved.

Bevin is applying for what's called an 1115 waiver, essentially that's permission from the federal government for Kentucky to create its own Medicaid program.

Bevin called it “truly a transformative, a sustainable and fantastic program.”

Under Bevin's plan those who receive benefits would begin paying premiums, anywhere from $1 a month up to $15, but no co-pay.

Recipients would also have to earn dental and vision benefits by doing things such as stopping smoking, losing weight, taking classes or volunteering.

The idea, Bevin says, is to make the state healthier, and get recipients more involved their healthcare.

“The intent is to make this as available to everybody as it has been. To make the program more successful by making it more accountable, by restoring a sense of dignity that comes with people having stake in their own health outcomes,” said Bevin.

But the group Save Kentucky Healthcare, founded by former Gov. Steve Beshear, blasted the plan, saying Bevin has declared war on working families.

Others say Bevin's plan puts up barriers to healthcare.

“When you have out of pocket costs that are there that weren't there before, and if they have to earn benefits that they have now,” said Sheila Schuster of Kentucky Voices for Health.

Bevin says his plan will save more than $2 billion over five years, making Medicaid more sustainable.

“Because if it's not, it will just suck dollars away from education, from public safety and other things that we all consider important for the state of KY to provide,” said Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Bevin says he's confident the feds will approve the plan. If not, he'll veto Medicaid expansion in Kentucky and thousands could lose coverage.

“If they do not approve this, there will not be expanded Medicaid in the state of Kentucky,” said Bevin.

There will be a series of hearings, allowing the public to have its say.

You can read more details about the governor's plan here.

Here is the full statement from Save Kentucky Healthcare:

Gov. Matt Bevin declared war on Kentucky’s working families today by announcing his intentions to take away health benefits, increase costs and institute unwieldy requirements for those families to keep health coverage. And if the federal government refuses to accept these draconian changes, he threatened to kick hundreds of thousands of working Kentuckians off of health care.

 Gov. Bevin seems woefully unaware of what Kentuckians on expanded Medicaid -- and that's construction workers, substitute teachers, nurses’ aides, farmers, our neighbors, friends and family - do every day to support their families while still being able to take their children to the doctor.

 Gov. Bevin still cannot and will not explain how any of these changes will lead to better health, and he ignores a mountain of third-party evidence demonstrating that the system he inherited is not only effective but also sustainable. And contrary to his statement, it is up to Gov. Bevin himself to decide whether to terminate expansion, not the federal government – and the accountability for that decision will lie on his shoulders. Our families deserve better than these petty threats.

Here is a statement from Kentucky U.S. Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

In my travels across Kentucky, I routinely hear from constituents about how disastrous Obamacare has been for them and their families.  Obamacare’s record has been one of broken promises and higher costs.  I applaud Governor Bevin for recognizing the unaffordable mess left behind by his predecessor and responding with innovative, common-sense steps to engage patients, improve health and reduce the burden on Kentucky taxpayers.

Kentucky House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover also issued a statement:

When former Gov. Steve Beshear expanded Medicaid under Obamacare, he misled Kentuckians about the cost and benefit. Now, Kentucky is faced with a Medicaid program that is unsustainable and will end in financial ruin if we don’t act immediately.

 Gov. Bevin has presented a plan to take care of our most vulnerable, which is the original purpose of Medicaid. Taxpayers simply cannot afford to support one-third of Kentucky's population on Medicaid. Despite the ex-governor's suggestion, when Kentucky’s cost share kicks in during 2017, we will not be anywhere close to being able to afford the expansion, falling short by nearly $250 million, and approaching $1.2 billion over the next five years.

 The Gov.’s plan to encourage individual buy-in is the right direction. Kentucky must focus on results-driven health, and a cost-sharing approach, rather than the continued reliance on taxpayer-funded benefits and the further erosion of health that has resulted from Obamacare and Medicaid expansion.

Kentucky Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo had this response:

We have asked our Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources, which is chaired by Rep. Joni Jenkins, and the House Task Force on Vulnerable Kentuckians, which is chaired by Rep. Jim Wayne, to analyze the proposed waiver and determine what effect this will have on Kentuckians.

Ben Wakana, National Press Secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued the following statement on Medicaid expansion in Kentucky:

As we have said many times, Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion has led to one of the biggest reductions of uninsured people in America.  We are hopeful that Kentucky will ultimately choose to build on its historic improvements in health coverage and health care, rather than go backwards. Kentucky is only beginning the Medicaid waiver process and has not yet submitted a waiver to CMS. When it does, we will evaluate the waiver based on our longstanding principles of access to coverage and affordability of care, principles that we have repeatedly shared with the state.  As in other states, we are prepared to continue our dialogue for as long as it takes to find a solution that continues progress for the people of Kentucky.

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