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Kentucky Is First To Get Approval For Medicaid Work Requirement

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/LEX 18) -- Kentucky has become the first state to win approval from the Trump administration requiring many of its Medicaid recipients to work to receive coverage.

The Trump administration gave the approval Friday. People between the ages of 19 and 64 must complete 80 hours per month of "community engagement" to keep their benefits. That includes getting a job, going to school, taking a job training course and community service.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin says the plan will save state taxpayers more than $300 million over the next five years. He also estimates about 95,000 people will lose their Medicaid coverage either by not complying with the work and community engagement requirements or by losing their eligibility because they make too much money.

Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self said, "The last thing we should be doing is removing access to health care — particularly in eastern and western Kentucky. Life can’t be your highest value only part of the time. Either you value life or you don’t. And Bevin has shown he doesn’t care about the lives of these nearly 100,000 Kentuckians. This waiver will surely cost us more in tax dollars with an uninsured population and this waiver not only lacks safeguards for the costs it creates, but it’s morally deficient."

Mitch McConnel has released a statement, “I applaud CMS and Governor Bevin for recognizing the unaffordable mess left behind by his predecessor and responding with innovative, common-sense steps to engage patients, improve health, and reduce the burden on Kentucky taxpayers. Today’s announcement by CMS is a step toward taking the power out of Washington and sending it back to the state while also ensuring the long term fiscal sustainability of the Medicaid program.”

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