Op-Ed

Medicaid waiver misguided, harmful

KYNECT magnets at the Fayette Co. Extension Office in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, November 14, 2013. The event was sponsored by AARP and the Lexington-Fayette Co. Health Department. Photo by Matt Goins
KYNECT magnets at the Fayette Co. Extension Office in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, November 14, 2013. The event was sponsored by AARP and the Lexington-Fayette Co. Health Department. Photo by Matt Goins Herald-Leader

Kynect and expanded Medicaid have been among of the most extraordinary accomplishments Kentucky has made in the last 30 years.

We are talking about 440,000 people in Kentucky who now have a primary care provider, who can get an eye exam, who can see specialists, who can get a dental exam, an x-ray and their teeth cleaned once a year. It has been a tremendous step forward.

For some reason Gov. Matt Bevin wants to reverse this progress.

The changes he wants to make in expanded Medicaid — to eliminate vision and dental, and create premiums with lockouts for people who can’t pay the premiums — have nothing to do with health care.

As a matter of fact, his changes are not even justified by economics, but seem to be motivated by the concept that poor people are defective morally, that poor people (defined as people whose wages are artificially low) are not trying hard enough and that poor people need to be guided by people like him.

In reality, poverty is structural; poverty is built into the system by the people who have the power to do so. The people on Medicaid are in no more need of moral guidance than the governor and the people on the governor’s staff.

There is nothing more offensive than the wealthy (who have the best health care that money can buy) having the nerve to tell poor people they can’t have health care.

Bevin’s tactic is to submit a waiver to the federal government detailing his desired changes to expanded Medicaid and then announce that if his changes are not accepted he will abolish the program. He uses this tactic because he obviously feels that poor people in Kentucky just haven’t suffered enough.

As a citizen of the state of Kentucky, I ask that Bevin withdraw his waiver and consult with people who have the best interests of all Kentuckians at heart before he makes his next move regarding health care.

K.A. Owens of Louisville is a former chair of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth.

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