Matt Bevin’s Medicaid Blunder Fixed Or Increasing? Protesters Gather

Kentuckians have been battling to get their full Medicaid benefits under Obama’s Affordable Care Act due to a haphazard decision by Governor Matt Bevin. Now, months later, Bevin has decided to make more changes to the federal program that will result in restricted Medicaid services.

Because Matt Bevin wants to add more barriers to healthcare access for Kentuckians, some of his constituents are organizing against Bevin’s “Medicaid transformation,” as described on the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) website.

So far, there have been three public hearings about the proposed Medicaid changes, with a warning that “[a]ll comments must be received by Friday, July 22, 2016.” Once the time arrived for Matt Bevin’s hearing, Kentuckians gathered to protest on July 20 in Frankfort, Kentucky.

Although there are at least a few independent organizations helping Kentuckians fight back, one of the main issues is the way Matt Bevin perceives Medicaid at large.

For example, on February 23, LEX18 quoted Matt Bevin saying he “lamented the fact that 25 percent of the state’s population is now on Medicaid, calling it unsustainable.”

Around that time in February, Matt Bevin disconnected Kentuckians from their Medicaid and other federal benefits, such as SNAP/food stamps, by taking down the Kynect website.

The replacement, Benefind, did not work as expected, and as previously reported by The Inquisitr, this resulted in some Kentuckians going for extended periods of time without their federal benefits.

As it appears, just as Matt Bevin started to fix one problem he created for Kentuckians’ Medicaid benefits access, he took steps to create another one.

According to a July 20 report from Courier Journal, protestors gathered in Kentucky in the capital of Frankfort because Matt Bevin decided to hold a hearing to get “permission from the federal government, to reshape the Medicaid program.” Changes that Matt Bevin wants for Kentucky’s Medicaid include the following:

“[Charging] for premiums for coverage that is now largely free… [require] that people work or volunteer to get benefits and… [will] ‘lock out’ some people who miss premium payments. It also eliminates dental and vision care from basic Medicaid coverage though consumers could accumulate points on a ‘rewards’ card toward purchases of optional health and dental services.”

In a previous report by Courier Journal‘s Deborah Yetter on June 20, she states that Matt Bevin’s “changes” are elaborate and “[t]he 70-page waiver document shows a decline in Medicaid enrollment of nearly 86,000 people by 2021, a decline the administration attributes to moving more people to the commercial insurance market.”

Matt Bevin has been trying to dismantle connect since day one
Matt Bevin has talked about "dismantling" Kynect since he got into office. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Now that Matt Bevin wants to change Medicaid, the online system for accessing those benefits is conveniently fixed. In particular, Deborah Yetter tweeted on July 20 after writing about the Medicaid protests that a “CHFS official says backlog of Benefind cases eliminated, still improving system. #benefind #medicaid.”

Also on July 20, KY House GOP tweeted “CHFS says Bevin admin inherited system from previous admin, has worked diligently to improve Benefind for Kentuckians. #kyga16.”

This is surprising to many Kentuckians following Matt Bevin’s antics because it was established as early as April 12 that “Benefind was never meant to replace Kynect” as a way for Kentuckians to access benefits from the federal government, according to WFPL.

In the end, there are some that think that Matt Bevin dismantling Kynect and making changes to Benefind is a great idea. For example, Forbes gave a detailed argument for Bevin’s ideas about Medicaid on June 7.

Matt Bevin cannot cancel Medicaid to fix the budget
Many Kentuckians and the lawmakers they elect have objected to Matt Bevin's take on how to fix the budget. (AP Photo/Adam Beam)

Despite this, a petition is circulating for Kentuckians that completely disagree with Matt Bevin’s take on Medicaid access. There are also several grassroots organizations that are working to improve Medicaid access for Kentuckians.

For example, on July 11, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth posted on Twitter for those affected to share their “thoughts about Governor Bevin’s proposed Medicaid changes and how you think they would impact you.” The tweet was linked to a survey called “Proposed Medicaid Changes in Kentucky.”

About the proposed changes to Medicaid, William Grimes, a Catholic deacon, was quoted by Courier Journal on July 20 talking about his experiences with opening a free clinic in Owingsville in Eastern Kentucky 16 years ago.

Owingsville is in a region with some of the poorest counties in America, according to Daily Mail, and Grimes called monthly premiums of $1 or $15 “unaffordable” for many of the clinic patients he knew.

[Picture by Adam Beam/AP Images]