Andrea Bennett

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

“Is it good for kids?” That is the question we at Kentucky Youth Advocates are asking while trying to understand the proposal by the Bevin Administration to transform Kentucky’s Medicaid program. From our perspective, we see some positives but also have some concerns.

First, we thank Governor Bevin for protecting children and pregnant women from potential negative impacts that premiums and reduced benefit packages could have on these populations. We believe that children and unborn children should have access to health coverage and needed health services no matter their family circumstance, and we thank the Governor’s compassion for these vulnerable Kentuckians.

We have several unanswered questions with the proposed waiver. We know that many of the proposed provisions will affect parents, and we are concerned with the impact these changes may have on families, including parents and their children. We worry about the communication with families to ensure they understand the program and how to navigate it to stay covered. We worry that parents may be confused about what they have to do to keep coverage for themselves versus what they have to do to keep their children enrolled. We worry that parents will be dropped from coverage and as a result, not renew their kids.

Finally, we worry about the exclusion of dental and vision benefits for adults. Although the proposed provisions allow for adults to “earn” back these benefits, we believe it is vital for dental and vision to be covered in the benefit package. We know that oral health especially can impact a parent’s overall health and believe parents must have access to preventive dental and vision services to prevent costly oral and vision health problems later on.

We appreciate Governor Bevin’s commitment to creating a culture of health and his aim to combat poverty in Kentucky. With more than one in four children in Kentucky living in poverty, we must work together on innovative solutions to improve the status of children and families our state. We want to work with the Bevin Administration to move forward. Yet, there are several questions we need answered before we can support such a proposal.