Kentucky Removes Nearly 500,000 From Medicaid Vision, Dental Benefits

The Republican governor of Kentucky followed through on a threat he made in January, eliminating benefits because his work requirement plan was struck down.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky speaks during a press conference.

Nearly half a million Kentucky residents are set to lose their Medicaid dental and vision benefits, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration announced this past weekend.

The cuts are an “unfortunate consequence” of a court ruling on Friday that invalidated Bevin’s original plan for financing Medicaid in his state, he said. Called “Kentucky HEALTH,” the plan Bevin was pushing for would have instituted stronger work requirements for hundreds of thousands of recipients of the plan in his state.

No proof was provided by Bevin’s administration that work requirements would incentivize people to get jobs to receive the benefits. Around 100,000 recipients would have been dropped from Kentucky HEALTH had that plan passed judicial muster.

Recipients of the vision and dental plans were notified on July 1, one day after the ruling was made, that their benefits would expire by the end of the month. It follows a threat that Bevin made nearly six months ago that he would cut benefits for Kentucky citizens if his plan for work requirements was successfully challenged in court.

Democrats largely criticized the measure. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer in particular pointed out how the plan to remove these benefits would hurt Kentucky in the long run.

“What I can tell you as mayor of this city, I do know when a health care situation goes unsolved today, it costs 10 times as much to deal with it in the future,” Fischer said.

It is indeed unfortunate that these plans to cut benefits for Kentuckians have been put into place. Bevin seems to think no other option is available to him or his administration. But while he institutes these cuts, hundreds of thousands of his constituents will no longer be able to get prescriptions filled out for their vision needs, or take care of dental problems that may arise.

Rather than take away benefits from people due to not getting his way, Bevin ought to consider options available to him that could help fund his state’s Medicaid problem. He owes it to the people he serves to seek out every possibility that’s out there to help the citizenry. Instead, he’s simply decided to give up on them.


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