Kentucky Is First To Get Federal OK For Medicaid Work Requirement

Jan 12, 2018


The federal government has approved most of Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid program.

Bevin’s proposal includes requiring many of the state’s Medicaid enrollees to perform some kind of “community engagement” — work, volunteer service, job training or education. The federal government paved the way for the approval on Thursday, when it announced it would allow work requirements as a condition for Medicaid coverage.

Bevin noted in a news conference Friday that Kentucky’s is the first waiver with a community engagement requirement approved.

“Kentucky is leading the nation in this reform in ways that are already replicated by well over a dozen states and growing,” he said.

“The idea that we should keep doing what we’re doing is an insult to the people of Kentucky. It’s an insult to those for whom a better opportunity is available and possible. And I’m excited by the fact that Kentucky will now lead the way.”

Bevin is calling the waiver “Kentucky HEALTH.” The acronym HEALTH stands for “Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health.”

The changes are aimed at decreasing what the state will have to pay to run the program, which was expanded to cover many more people under the Affordable Care Act. But the changes also would make it harder for people to keep their Medicaid coverage.

The Bevin administration says it will reach out to enrollees starting Friday, and the program will kick off in July.

The federal approval comes 17 months after the changes, which the feds call a “waiver,” were first submitted.

The Changes

Here are some of the changes coming for Kentucky’s Medicaid enrollees:

People who are enrolled because they make under $12,060 a year for a one-person family, but are not disabled will have to work, volunteer, take education classes or be in job training for at least 80 hours a month.

Enrollees who will be exempt from this include full-time students, former foster care youth, pregnant women, people with an acute medical condition and primary caregivers. People working 120 hours a month are also exempt.

They will continue to get vision and dental benefits, and either have to make a monthly payment — called a premium — or a payment at the time of a medical service.