Last night, a federal judge once again blocked the changes of Kentucky Medicaid that was set to start April 1, 2019. Specifically, the requirement to volunteer or work 80 hours a month in order to keep coverage, was blocked.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, who blocked the changes last year the day before they were set to start, said that the plan was almost identical to the one seen last year. He also stated that the point of medicaid was not to incentivize getting a job, but was to instead help those with limited financial resources receive healthcare coverage.
Medicaid has provided free health insurance to low income Americans for over 50 years. President Obama expanded the program to even cover more Americans under the Affordable Care Act.
Gov. Matt Bevin believes that the changes he wishes to impose on Kentucky medicaid recipients will give them control over their health and encourage people to work; and possibly receive health insurance coverage through their place of work instead. He hopes that in the next 5 years, that over 100,000 people will be removed from Kentucky medicaid and will in turn, save the state money.
Judge Boasberg said that the plan shows no evidence that the program will save money or make the program more sustainable. It is worth noting that in Arkansas, where work requirements have gone into place already, that over 18,000 people lost coverage over the course of 4 months after the ruling went into effect.
The changes proposed for Kentucky medicaid would require residents to have an online account in order to track their work requirements, a separate online account for My Rewards (a system in place to pay for vision and dental which would be dropped from medicaid coverage). Currently the online resources are only in English and Spanish. Any additional languages have to be requested from the state. Many who oppose the plan point out that many of those who fall below the federal poverty level, a large portion of those on medicaid, do not have access to the internet at home, and do not have smartphone, increasing the difficulty of getting coverage under the new plan for an already under-served population.
Currently, Medicaid covers 1.4 million people in Kentucky.