FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB/AP) -- Kentucky has become the first state to win approval from the Trump administration requiring many of its Medicaid recipients to work to receive coverage.
The Trump administration gave the approval for the Commonwealth’s Section 1115 Medicaid waiver (known as Kentucky HEALTH -- Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health) on Friday.
The waiver essentially requires some able-bodied Medicaid recipients to either work, get job training or perform other public service to receive benefits.
People between the ages of 19 and 64 must complete 80 hours per month of "community engagement" to keep their benefits. That includes getting a job, going to school, taking a job training course and community service.
Bevin has said previously that the goal is to transition some people from Medicaid to private insurance, saving the state money.
He says the plan will save state taxpayers more than $300 million over the next five years. He also estimates about 95,000 people will lose their Medicaid coverage either by not complying with the work and community engagement requirements or by losing their eligibility because they make too much money.
Bevin says to not include an expectation for able-bodied people receiving Medicaid to work is a form of "soft bigotry."
Bevin promised the waiver will not affect the "infirmed" for whom the program was designed. He says it does not apply to anyone receiving Medicare or the traditional Medicaid recipient.
He called the waiver the state's way "of giving people dignity."
During a 1:30 news conference in Frankfort on Friday, Bevin called the plan "transformational," and said most human beings don't like to be wards of someone else. He called the HELP program a model for the nation.
Health & Family Services Secretary Vickie Yates Glisson says the Kentucky HEALTH program will start in July, and that it is not a "one size fits all" solution.
“Kentucky HEALTH is a comprehensive, transformative plan empowering individuals to improve their health and well-being while ensuring Medicaid’s long term financial sustainability,” Glisson said. "Kentucky HEALTH also provides the opportunity for multiple cabinets within state government to coordinate and strengthen efforts to improve the quality of life for Kentuckians.”
Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner says the program will help citizens find a faster path to better health, but Rep. John Yarmuth (D-03) called it irresponsible.
Bevin pushed back, asking "how is it irresponsible?"
One-third of Kentuckians are on Medicaid.
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