Kentucky Could Be First State To Fully Eliminate Medicaid Work Requirements

Nov 6, 2019

 

Democrat Andy Beshear claimed victory election night and promised to end Kentucky's Medicaid work requirement.
Credit Associate Press

If Governor-Elect Andy Beshear follows through on his Election Night promise to end the Medicaid work requirement, Kentucky would be the first state to withdraw such a plan.

While the Associated Press has yet to call the extremely close race, Beshear is ahead by about 5,000 votes. In his victory speech, Beshear said ending Medicaid is a priority for his administration.

Policy Analyst Dustin Pugel of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy said the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) had approved a waiver that would enable Kentucky’s work requirements. 

But, he said, CMS  also left the opportunity for the waiver to be withdrawn. If Beshear takes action it would be an “enormous” step. 

“It would basically just come off the books,” Pugel said. 

“It's important to the Commonwealth as a whole. So, you know, this waiver was an unprecedented attack on Medicaid. So undoing that would be just incredibly vital,” he said. “What this means is that people get to have access to healthcare without barriers, which is incredibly important to them.”

Pugel said the requirements would push at least 95,000 people off Medicaid rolls and would complicate the use of Medicaid for 1.2 million Kentuckians. The plan would require some "able-bodied" Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer or attend school or training 20 hours a week. 

Nine states have applied for a waiver, he said. Two, Arizona and Indiana, have suspended their plans. Three states, including Kentucky, have the programs stalled because of lawsuits. No programs are currently in operation. 

According to the federal Government Accountability Office, the Bevin administration has spent more than $270 million to put the policy in place.