Kentucky Governor Rescinds Planned Medicaid Changes
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday halted his Republican predecessor’s efforts to impose work requirements for some able-bodied adults to receive Medicaid health coverage, calling his action the “moral, faith-driven thing to do.”
The new Democratic governor signed an executive order rescinding former Gov. Matt Bevin’s plan to require those affected to either work, study, volunteer or perform other “community engagement” activities to maintain Medicaid coverage. A federal judge blocked the requirements before they took effect, but Bevin’s administration had appealed.
Beshear had pledged during the campaign to reverse Bevin’s so-called Medicaid waiver if elected, and he followed through less than a week after taking office.
His predecessor’s plan would have stripped coverage for about 100,000 Kentuckians, Beshear said.
“My faith teaches me that rescinding this waiver is not only the right thing to do, it is the moral, faith-driven thing to do,” Beshear told reporters. “I believe health care is a basic human right.”
Medicaid is a joint federal and state health care program for poor and disabled people.
Former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law allowed states to expand the program to include adults with no children. In Kentucky, that allowed more than 400,000 people to get health benefits, many for the first time.
But that was many more people than state officials had expected, greatly increasing the state’s costs. Bevin had been trying to change the program since he was elected governor in 2015. In January 2018, the Trump administration gave Kentucky permission to require some Medicaid recipients to get a job, go to school or volunteer to keep their benefits. The state also planned to impose small monthly premiums from those Medicaid recipients to mimic private insurance plans.
Sixteen Kentucky residents sued to block those rules, which were blocked by a federal judge.
Beshear’s executive order effectively ends Kentucky’s litigation involving the Medicaid waiver.