Kentucky Governor Holds Medicaid Patients Hostage After Court Rules Against Him

Illustration for article titled Kentucky Governor Holds Medicaid Patients Hostage After Court Rules Against Him
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Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is throwing a temper tantrum because a federal judge struck down his plan to add work requirements to Medicaid. His response? Taking away dental and vision benefits from nearly 500,000 people.


On Friday, a federal court ruled that Bevin’s plan to require certain people on Medicaid to work or lose their benefits—a plan which was one of the first of its kind to be approved by the Trump administration—was “arbitrary and capricious.” According to the federal judge, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar “never adequately considered whether [Bevin’s] Kentucky HEALTH [plan] would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid.” The plan, which was supposed to go into effect on July 1, has been sent back to the HHS for reconsideration.

In response, Bevin’s administration decided to cut off dental and vision benefits for almost half-a-million Kentuckians this weekend. These changes will affect the adults who gained coverage when Kentucky expanded Medicaid. According to the Courier-Journal, Doug Hogan, communications director for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services sent an email explaining that Medicaid recipients could “earn points” by volunteering or taking online classes to get their benefits:

Hogan’s email said that under Bevin’s overhaul, known as Kentucky HEALTH, about 460,000 Medicaid members affected by the changes already had been notified that effective July 1, basic dental and vision benefits would end.

Instead, they could earn points toward paying for services through a “My Rewards” account by completing activities such as online classes or volunteer work.


Hard to do these things when you need glasses or dental work!

Hogan called the decision an “unfortunate consequence” of the judge’s ruling, despite the fact that the court order did not call for these cuts. The motive here is clear—Bevin has long been threatening to blow up Medicaid expansion if his plan was struck down. He didn’t get his way, so why not fuck over 460,000 of his state’s residents?

Clio Chang is a staff writer at Splinter.

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