FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - A group of 16 Kentuckians have once again filed a federal lawsuit against the state’s revised plan to institute a “community engagement” requirement for some Medicaid recipients.
A Medicaid waiver known as Kentucky HEALTH, an acronym for Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health, was approved by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, last year, but a federal judge had halted implementation of the waiver program on June 29, just two days before it was to begin, due to the lawsuit filed by the same 16 people involved in Tuesday’s action.
The administration of Gov. Matt Bevin made some changes to the Medicaid waiver and resubmitted it to CMS, winning approval on Nov. 20, and it was scheduled to begin implementation on April 1.
Bevin’s plan institutes requirements including monthly “community engagement” for recipients to keep benefits. That could be accomplished through such things as employment or job training, school and community service There were other changes to the federal system as well.
Kentucky HEALTH would put about 460,000 “able-bodied” adults in a plan with limited benefits that didn’t include dental and vision. However, individuals could earn points toward paying for dental and vision care through volunteer activities in the community or by taking online classes through a “My Rewards” system.
The program also includes expanded access to Substance Use Disorder treatment for Medicaid beneficiaries, a fully-funded $1,000 Deductible Account to help beneficiaries track their healthcare spending and show the cost of healthcare services, and the Kentucky Integrated Health Insurance Premium Payment program that lets Medicaid help beneficiaries pay for the cost of private health insurance.
According to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services, or CHFS, initial estimates project Kentucky HEALTH will save the Medicaid program over $2 billion during the five-year demonstration period, with more than $300 million in savings to Kentucky’s General Fund; and will help ensure availability of Medicaid resources to the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
In response to the latest lawsuit, CHFS Secretary Adam Meier
said in a statement: “The cabinet is not surprised by the refiling and will continue to work toward implementation of the Kentucky HEALTH waiver. Kentuckians, and specifically our Medicaid members, deserve a Medicaid program that will improve health outcomes and provide paths for employability, long-term stability, and future success while also ensuring the long-term sustainability of Medicaid for those who need it most.”