Forum on Medicaid changes designed to help navigate the confusion of this summer’s overhaul

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Kentucky’s Medicaid program is set to undergo a major overhaul starting July 1, and state officials are now criss-crossing the state to prepare for the launch.

Under Kentucky’s new program, the first of its kind in the nation, thousands of able-bodied Medicaid recipients will be charged small monthly premiums. They will also be required to do what the state calls “community engagement” to earn some of their benefits. The requirements include volunteer work, classes, job training and preventive care.

Kentucky HEALTH held a forum in Louisville on Thursday to assist those who work directly with Medicaid recipients. Kristi Putnam is manage of the program, responsible for making sure the new Medicaid 1115 waiver plan launched by Gov. Matt Bevin actually works.

“We wanted to have an opportunity to get some additional feedback, to provide the update about where we are as far as implementation goes,” Putnam said.

There is a growing list of recipients who will be exempt from the work requirement, including those with small children and those considered “medically frail.”

Joy Wickens with Passport Health said she came to the forum so she can help her Medicaid clients navigate the confusion.

“(I wanted to) find out how I can help members not to lose their coverage or to make sure they do what they need to do not lose their coverage,” Wickens said.

Putnam said the ultimate goal is better health for Kentuckians, as well as for the state budget as more people move from Medicaid to private insurance.

“That would mean people are employed, that would mean people have more economic stability, that would mean a broader tax base for the state,” she said.

The forums, which are being held across the state, serve to help make sure those who need Medicaid are still able to get it.

“Every time we meet with a group, we come away an understanding of how we can make sure someone doesn’t fall through the cracks,” Putnam said.

The list of upcoming Kentucky HEALTH forums is available here.

The program is moving toward launch despite the fact that fifteen Kentuckians have filed a federal lawsuit to try and block it. The Bevin administration has filed a counter suit.

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