Work Requirement Could Impact Medicaid Numbers in Kentucky

May 6, 2018

  Kentucky continues to make strides in the number of residents who are able to obtain and afford health insurance. But those gains may be at risk if the state moves forward with its Medicaid waiver. 

The state won approval from the federal government to require some recipients to work, attend school, or volunteer in order continue receiving benefits. A report released by the Commonwealth Fund shows Kentucky has made the greatest improvement among states in the number of adults who are insured. Sarah Collins is Vice President of Health Care Coverage and Access for the Commonwealth Fund. She says the new requirements could cause Medicaid rolls to shrink.

"If it does take effect, next year you might see a lower level of enrollment, potentially higher uninsured rates in Kentucky, particularly among low income people."

The state plans to begin implementing the requirements in July. Researchers at the Commonwealth Fund say the repeal of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act also threatens improvements in the number of people with health care coverage, not just in Kentucky, but around the country.

"It is widely expected that the imposition of work requirements will lead to lower enrollment in all the states attempting these. There's experience in other public programs that it affects enrollment."

Collins says gains in coverage could also be challenged by the repeal of the individual mandate in the ACA. Starting in 2019, people will no longer have to pay a penalty on their federal tax return if they don’t have health insurance.