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Bevin’s Medicaid waiver will kick almost 100,000 Kentuckians off their health care

 

Harriette Seiler said she liked her frequent flyer miles, but objected to the rewards system proposed under Gov. Matt Bevin’s Medicaid waiver where if Kentuckians “pleased the current administration,”  they would earn enough points to see a dentist.

Seiler, of Frankfort, was one of about 17 people who waited several hours to testify during the public comment session of Bevin’s latest change to his Medicaid waiver that the state estimates will kick 100,000 Kentuckians off of their current health coverage.

While Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) officials touted the waiver and its $27 million in savings, Adam Meir, Bevin’s chief of staff for policy, told House Democrat Mary Lou Marzian of Louisville the savings would be used to pay for administrative costs created by the waiver.

“To pinpoint the costs would be difficult (to implement the Medicaid waiver changes and restrictions),” Meir said. “Although we do anticipate being able to pay for the state’s share of the changes out of moving from Kynect (the state exchange set up under the Beshear’s administration) to healthcare.gov.”

In other words,  Bevin and his administration pines for smaller government, but will readily kick almost 100,000 Kentuckians off of Medicaid no matter the costs by using savings from the former successful Kynect system. Without adhering to any fiscal or moral reasoning, the push is obviously political.

The Medicaid expansion currently gives access to health care for about 470,000 Kentuckians. Coupling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s ambitions to eradicate health care for more than half a million Kentuckians by repealing the Affordable Care Act and Bevin’s scorched-earth approach to Medicaid expansion in the state, more than half a million Kentuckians from senior citizens to children will be the largest population to lose access to health care than any other state in the nation.

“These new modifications can be likened to the expression often used ‘putting lipstick on a pig,’” Seiler said. “I object strongly to the patriarchal concept of teaching people how to be — what — good employees, good purchasers of private insurance? It’s not to be better citizens. It’s to be better purchasers. In the long term, please join the movement that is rising up across the country: single-payer health care. Everybody in, nobody out.”

Bevin’s changes include:

• A requirement that able-bodied adults who aren’t employed to volunteer or work 20 hours per week;

• Locking recipients out of their Medicaid benefits for six months if they fail to report changes in wages affecting income eligibility;

• Members who don’t make premium payments within 60 days of the due date will also be penalized with a six-month penalty lockout period, have $25 automatically deducted from their individual “My Rewards” account, which also triggers the rewards account to be suspended;

• To re-enroll before the six-month lockout period, recipients must pay two months of missed premiums, one month’s premium  or complete a health or financial literacy course.

The initial waiver called for “able-bodied” adults to do volunteer work weekly, take work-training classes or do community service.

According to officials, benefits won’t change for pregnant women, children, the state’s population prior to the Medicaid expansion or the medically frail.

And although the proposed waiver literature says the “state (is) to develop a process to identify “medically frail” adults, Scott Brinkman, executive cabinet secretary, Governor’s Office, told Marzian Managed Care Organizations “working with physicians — not the state,” would determine the medically frail not the state.

Mark McKinley testified before the state health cabinet officials echoing questions from the previous hearing a year ago, and also asked by Shively Democrat Joni Jenkins, that no one can tell him the costs associated with the changes.

We need to get people working. That should take place at the department of employment services,” McKinley said, “and not hold health care hostage.”

Kentuckians can submit public comments the waiver changes up to 11:59 p.m. Aug. 2 by mail to Department of Medicaid Services, Commissioner Stephen Miller 275 East Main Street, Frankfort, 40601 or by email to kyhealth@ky.gov.