Kentucky is first to get OK for Medicaid work requirement

Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump, right, and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, left, talk during a prison reform roundtable in the Roosevelt Room of the Washington. 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 go ahead Friday, Jan. 12, 2018.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky became the first state to require many of its Medicaid recipients to work to receive coverage, part of an unprecedented change to the nation’s largest health insurance program under the Trump administration.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the approval on Friday. The change will require adults between the ages of 19 and 64 to complete 80 hours per month of “community engagement” to keep their coverage. That includes getting a job, going to school, taking a job training course and community service.

The decision marks a dramatic shift for Kentucky, which embraced former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act under its last governor, a Democrat, and won praise for posting some of the largest gains in getting its residents insured.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who was elected in 2015, said Friday that the state consistently ranks near the bottom of the country in health outcomes.

“The idea we should keep doing what we are doing is an insult to the people of Kentucky,” Bevin said.

Bevin expects the changes to save the state more than $300 million over the next five years. But he also estimated as many as 95,000 people could lose their Medicaid benefits, either because they did…

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