Opinion

Medicaid waiver would produce poorer health outcomes

Expanding Kentucky’s Medicaid coverage in 2014 changed life for 430,000 Kentuckians who gained preventive care, potentially saving lives, and easing costly emergency room overcrowding. Now, the Kentucky HEALTH plan is looking to change how that program works.

Helping Kentuckians keep health coverage should be a top priority. This is especially important to those over 50 but not yet eligible for Medicare. Many of these workers were hit hard by the recession. There are proposals in the Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid Waiver application that need to be changed to keep them healthy.

Requiring adult participants to volunteer or seek job training poses new obstacles to coverage. The plan allows exemptions but it’s not clear how they would be implemented. Failure to pay the premium within 60 days or comply with the volunteer and training requirements results in termination from Kentucky HEALTH until premiums are paid or the requirements are satisfied. This creates coverage gaps that could result in poorer health outcomes.

The proposed premiums could reduce access to needed care or create undue services barriers.

No Kentuckian should have to choose between maintaining their health coverage and buying groceries.

Gina Haynes

Lexington

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