Andrea Bennett

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

Today, the Bevin Administration submitted its revised 1115 Medicaid Waiver proposal to the federal government for approval. The waiver includes several modifications from the original proposal based on comments received from the public during the comment period. We at Kentucky Youth Advocates appreciate that some of our recommendations to the Bevin Administration were incorporated in the final waiver proposal, but we still have several concerns with the submitted waiver.

Given the vulnerability of former foster youth, we were pleased to see the Bevin Administration clearly stated that former foster youth up to age 26 are not included in the waiver and therefore not subject to any changes in requirements for Medicaid coverage. The final waiver also included several additional options for individuals to gain rewards in their My Rewards Account through activities we recommended, such as a parent taking a child to the doctor for a well-child exam.

However, we still have major concerns about how the final 1115 Medicaid Waiver will negatively impact many parents and, as a result, impact their children as well. We are concerned that certain populations of families such as kinship families are not exempt from cost-sharing and other lockout periods. We are concerned that the lowest income individuals (those under 100% of the federal poverty level) are still subject to copayments or premiums they likely cannot afford to pay. We are concerned that individuals without job growth potential will not be able to pay increasing monthly premiums throughout the five-year period of the waiver. We are concerned that vision and dental services are considered an earned benefit rather than services covered in a standard benefit package.

The waiver is now in the hands of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and another public comment period will begin soon. We encourage CMS to address these concerns during negotiations with the Bevin Administration. We encourage the public to submit comments to CMS during the open comment period and highlight these outstanding concerns. And, we encourage the Bevin Administration to work with CMS to come to an agreement on an 1115 Medicaid Waiver that can move forward in a way that works for Kentuckians, helps improve health outcomes, and is sustainable. Medicaid expansion has become a vital safety net for so many vulnerable Kentuckians, and we as a state cannot afford to move backward on health coverage.