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Kentucky Cuts Medicaid Vision, Dental Benefits Following Block to Work Requirements

Jaime Rosenberg
Following a federal judge’s decision to block Kentucky's Medicaid work requirements on Friday, Republican Governor Matt Bevin has cut Medicaid dental and vision benefits for 460,000 Medicaid enrollees. The Cabinet for Health and Family Services called the decision "an unfortunate consequence of the judge’s ruling."
In response to a federal judge’s decision to block Kentucky’s Medicaid work requirements on Friday, Republican Governor Matt Bevin has cut Medicaid dental and vision benefits for nearly half a million enrollees.

The decision has prompted outcry from several state officials. Representative Joni Jenkins, a Democrat, wrote in a statement: “We are concerned about rash decisions made in response to the court ruling. We call for thoughtful discussions involving the administration and the many statewide stakeholders in the path forward in assuring Kentucky’s working families have healthcare.”

The state's Cabinet for Health and Family Services has labeled the court decision responsible for the cuts to benefits. In an email exchange with the Louisville Courier-Journal, Doug Hogan, the communications director for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said, “This is an unfortunate consequence of the judge’s ruling.”

The Kentucky HEALTH program, which included the work requirements, shared an update on its page, stating that as of July 1, medical benefits will continue as they were. However, “if you received notice saying you could access vision and dental services through a My Rewards Account, you will not have access to dental and vision benefits.” The state added, “The legal decision has stopped the ability to use the My Rewards dollars in order to purchase dental and vision services.”

Following the decision Friday, Adam Meier, the Health and Family Services chief, hinted at the cuts to the program, stating that, “without prompt implementation of Kentucky HEALTH, we will have no choice but to make significant benefit reductions.”

The ruling, made by Judge James E. Boasberg of the Federal District Court for the District of Colombia, concluded that the approved waiver to add work requirements had been “arbitrary and capricious” because it had not adequately considered whether the plan would “help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid.”

Bevin has previously indicated that if the state’s work requirements were blocked, he would take steps to dismantle the state’s Medicaid program. After the waiver to add work requirements was approved, Bevin signed an executive order protecting the requirements, which stated that if a lawsuit was brought against the work requirement waiver and a judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, the state would “take the necessary actions to terminate Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion program,” within 6 months after all appeals have been exhausted or waived.

 
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