Jessie Whitish
502-895-8167 *121

Statement by Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates

Today’s ruling inevitably means further court wrangling and continued uncertainty for Kentucky’s families. Health coverage is so vital, and it’s tough on families who are left with more questions than answers as the case moves to the next court setting.

Regardless of the final outcome of the case and regardless of attendant decisions, Kentucky Youth Advocates is going to keep asking the same – and singular – question: “Is it good for kids?”

It is important to note that Kentucky HEALTH protects children, pregnant women, and former foster youth up to age 26 from the potential negative impacts of premiums, reduced benefit packages, and lockout periods. We have consistently underscored those as positive aspects of the Bevin Administration’s 1115 Waiver.

However, at the same time we must underscore the undeniable linkage between parental coverage and that of their children. Minimizing barriers to coverage and promoting access to services for parents is a undeniably vital component to ensuring children do not lose their coverage, even if children’s eligibility and benefits do not directly change.

The Bevin Administration has taken steps in recent months to explain the pending health coverage changes to Kentuckians. As the judicial process moves ahead, it is important that there is a continued emphasis on ensuring families understand options and processes at play to ensure coverage. This ongoing coverage – along with essential benefits, such as dental and vision coverage and prescription drugs for parents covered by traditional Medicaid – impacts families, the workforce, and overall well-being in the Commonwealth. That demands rigorous attention to engagement with those most affected.

Parents must be healthy to provide for their families and care for their children. And, the latest Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT report tells us that 97% of Kentucky children now have health coverage. We cannot and should not risk those gains in health. The 1115 Medicaid Waiver can be a key catalyst or a crippling inhibitor to that trajectory of progress.