Officials sorting out Medicaid waiver, seeking re-approval


FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – State officials told a legislative committee that they are working through details and will be seeking re-approval of the Medicaid waiver that a federal judge halted last month.

Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Adam Meier and Deputy Secretary Kristi Putnam testified before the Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Committee on Wednesday about the status of the Kentucky HEALTH program and what it means to the state’s Medicaid recipients.

Putnam told the panel the decision from the federal court in Washington, D.C., came down late Friday afternoon on June 29, with the changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid system scheduled to become effective on Sunday, July 1. 

“We had to literally undo in 30 hours about a year and a half’s work of careful planning.”

The ruling will affect things going forward, Putnam said.  “The order did not rule any component of Kentucky Health to be unlawful, it did not stop the community engagement. The judge’s order did remove the waiver approval on a narrow basis and sent it back to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to reconsider.”

She said they are now working with the Governor’s office, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, HHS and the Department of Justice toward a re-approval of the waiver.  There has not been a decision yet on whether an appeal will be filed by the federal agencies.

Until there is resolution, Putnam says, “Individuals in the alternative benefits plan do not have routine dental and vision coverage that would have been paid through their ‘My Benefits Account.’  However, individuals still have access to covered medical procedures for dental and vision services that would have not been paid with My Rewards dollars.”

She says the benefits have not changed for pregnant women, children, and those who are medically frail and former foster children up until the age of 26.

Putnam said there was some confusion by providers over who did and did not have vision and dental coverage following the court decision because the changes they had to quickly make to the website after the ruling were not as clear as they could have been.  Those webpages have seen been changed to show the correct information.

Meier told lawmakers: “We want to have re-approval as soon as possible and are looking for guidance from the federal government.  We hope to have more information on that next week.”

There are currently 460,000 Kentuckians on Medicaid, 373,000 of whom will not have dental and vision benefits until the court case is resolved.    


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