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New Comment Period Open On Kentucky Medicaid Changes

The public will again be able to weigh-in on the Medicaid changes that were set to go into effect July 1, before a federal court judge struck them down. Kentucky was the first state to have work requirements approved as part of the Medicaid program.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week opened a new comment period to last for 30 days. As first reported by Politico, the move could be an effort by the Trump administration to demonstrate that it is addressing the concerns of the court:
“While the state’s bid already went through a similar process last year and was approved in January, Trump administration lawyers are said to be confident that the strategy will allow them to surmount a federal judge’s misgivings, although advocates and external observers have doubts.”
In his ruling, Judge James Boasberg wrote that it wasn’t clear that the community engagement requirement to volunteer, work or do training for 80 hours a month to keep coverage met the goal of the Medicaid program.

Modern Healthcare reported that the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services doesn’t have details from the federal government about the process for possible re-approval after the comment period is closed. In a written statement, cabinet spokesman Doug Hogan said the comment period means the Medicaid changes won’t go into effect as soon as hoped.

“We had hoped for a quick federal re-approval that would allow the transformative Kentucky HEALTH program to start August 1, avoiding delayed access to services for beneficiaries and costly system changes,” Hogan wrote. “We have been working with CMS on the details of the re-approval process.”

Several states, including Virginia, are planning to include similar requirements for their Medicaid expansion population. Indiana, New Hampshire and Arkansas have all had work requirements approved by CMS in the months since Kentucky’s program was approved.

Kentucky also last week restored dental and vision benefits to adults who became eligible for Medicaid when it was expanded. The state took away the benefits after the court decision that struck down Bevin's Medicaid changes.

The CMS questionnaire on Kentucky's Medicaid waiver can be found here.

Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.