Clare White, a nanny or triplets depends on Medicaid, as it pay her prescriptions that keep her from killing herself. She has lost her job two months ago, and she has been looking for other ever since, and because of Medicaid, she still has her coverage. But now, due to Republican Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal this could change. He seeks to rebuild state’s program and make people like White volunteer or find a job to keep their benefits. Kentucky state officials say this change could trim state’s Medicaid enrollment by 95,000 people by 2021.
“I am told on a regular basis that I am entitled, that I want everything handed to me, that I lack gratitude. Nothing can be farther from the truth,” said Clare. “I am eager for the day that I earn my own benefits and bring home a paycheck that enables me to move out of my parents’ house and even afford to start a family.”
Beside White, 17 more people spoke on a final public hearing on Monday. Proposal that Bevin made would demand from people in expanded Medicaid to volunteer for 20 hours or work so they could keep their benefits. This plan would cut access to dental and vision cover, but those could be earned back by working or volunteering.
Although majority of the people at the public hearing shared opinion of The Rev. Kent Gilbert, who said the program is “reprehensible and immoral,” the secretary of Kentucky’s Health and Family Services Cabinet Vickie Yates Brown Glisson said that this public hearing and comments made only show that people don’t understand how this program would work. Referring to Clare, Glisson said that she would meet the requirement and won’t loose her coverage if she is actively looking for a job and “trying to improve her skills”.
“That’s the hard part about the comment period. You hear folks say things and you want to say, ‘I don’t want you to worry,’ or ‘It’s OK,'” she said. “I likewise feel very strongly we are doing the right thing for Kentucky, so I’m very comfortable.”
If passed, Bevin’s proposal would not apply to pregnant women, children younger than 19, primary caregivers for children or disabled adults, full-time students and the medically frail.
This proposal was submitted last year during the Barack Obama presidency, and has to be approved by the federal government first. Bevin opened the public comment period and made some changes in the proposal earlier this month. The action from federal government is not expected before August. But current administration appears to be font of this proposal.Vice President Mike Pence said: “President Trump and I are going to make sure that (Bevin) has the chance to try.”
Medicaid lowered Kentucky’s uninsured rate by 7% and covered the needs of additional 440,00 people with taxpayers money, and on the other side it increased state’s costs by $300 million, which is why Republicans said state will not be able to keep the program without changes.
After he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Johnny Pittman relied on Medicaid, and now he is off of those program and works at Oxmoor Auto Group in Louisville. He said he likes Bevin’s proposed changes as it will motivate and encourage people to work, and for him it’s “the biggest thing that the state of Kentucky is doing right now.”
“Disability and Medicaid worked great for me. It was a program and a vehicle to get me to a point where I needed to be,” he said. “We can help you through this, but you need to be responsible for yourself.”