1115 Waiver Approval is Met with Praise from Elected Officials and Community Leaders

Here’s what elected officials and community leaders are saying about the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) approval of Kentucky’s Section 1115 Medicaid waiver known as Kentucky HEALTH, announced late last week by Gov. Matt Bevin:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “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.”

Congressman Brett Guthrie, Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee’s Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee (KY-02): “I am pleased to see that the Trump administration has recognized the value of the Kentucky HEALTH proposal and has approved Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver application. The Kentucky HEALTH program will help Governor Bevin and the Kentucky state government tailor Medicaid to best fit the needs of Kentuckians. By helping low-income individuals gain employment or further their skills, the Kentucky HEALTH program will put individuals and families on a path toward success, allowing them to eventually rise from poverty and no longer have to rely on the Medicaid program. I applaud Governor Bevin for his work on this innovative program, and I hope it will serve as a model for other states as well.”

Congressman Thomas Massie (KY-04): “I fully support Governor Bevin’s efforts to receive a waiver from harmful federal Medicaid laws and regulations. Kentucky has every right to shape its own Medicaid programs, and I am pleased to learn that the Trump administration has granted our state’s 1115 waiver.”

Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06): “I thank the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for its approval of the Kentucky HEALTH demonstration waiver, a commonsense approach that gives Kentucky flexibility to customize its Medicaid program to best meet the needs of our unique, vulnerable populations. The HEALTH program will encourage more Kentuckians to take an active role in their health and communities, while ensuring the long term sustainability of the Medicaid program for those who need it most. I applaud Governor Bevin and his administration for their commitment to making Kentucky a national leader in health innovation and workforce development, and I look forward to supporting their efforts on the federal level.”

Congressman James Comer (KY-01): “I applaud President Trump’s approval of Kentucky’s waiver to put work requirements on able bodied Medicaid recipients. I have confidence that Governor Bevin’s Administration can successfully implement this much needed reform that will help expand Kentucky’s available workforce and its tax base.”

Robert Stivers, Kentucky Senate President: “Health care coverage for all is a laudable goal. The reality is that, without the implementation of this new 1115 waiver, the prior system was unsustainable and it would continue to create large deficits for our state. Kentucky HEALTH preserves existing benefits for our most vulnerable Kentuckians, while providing new opportunities for other working-age Kentuckians to be more engaged in their health plans. I applaud Governor Bevin and his administration for their efforts in their implementation of Kentucky HEALTH.”

David Osborne, Kentucky House Speaker Pro Tempore: “Our mission in Kentucky HEALTH is to empower certain working-age Kentuckians to make informed decisions about their family’s health and well-being. This is a truly innovative program that also retains current Medicaid benefits for our most vulnerable citizens. Medicaid expansion in Kentucky has not met our goals for improved health; despite dedicated funding, we remain one of America’s most unhealthy states. Kentucky HEALTH is a course-change to realign our focus on the health care decision-making process, with resulting health care benefits. I’m excited about the possibilities presented by this fresh approach.”

Julie Raque Adams, Chair, Senate Health and Welfare Committee: “The expansion of Medicaid in Kentucky was embraced by many. However, the need for reform became apparent and now Kentucky has received approval of its HEALTH proposal. This is an innovative approach to the delivery of health services while also ensuring protection for those most in need of aid.”

Addia Wuchner, Chairwoman, House Health & Family Services Committee: “As a nurse and retired Healthcare Administrator, I applaud Governor Bevin for a principled and fiscally responsible approach to improving the lives of Kentuckians! When Kentucky holds some of the most challenging health statistics in the nation, the status-quo is not acceptable. Kentucky HEALTH’s framework is such an innovative model that will address the health and economic well-being of individuals, families across the Commonwealth while ensuring Medicaid services for our most vulnerable citizens. As Kentucky HEALTH participants become better-informed and responsible healthcare consumers, their health outcomes will improve. The additional program features of community engagement, education and workforce development are going to enable Kentuckians to improve their lives and step out of the traps of dependency towards futures of promise and opportunity.”

Ralph Alvarado, MD, Chair, Senate Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Services: “Kentucky’s newly approved 1115 waiver, Kentucky HEALTH, ultimately allows us to save our state’s Medicaid expansion program. It is gratifying to see the Commonwealth lead with an innovative approach that will incentivize Kentuckians from public assistance to employment and private insurance.”

Kimberly P. Moser, Co-Chair of Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Committee: “I am proud to stand with Governor Bevin to improve Kentucky’s Medicaid program through Kentucky HEALTH. We will indeed ‘Help Engage and Achieve Long-Term Health’ by empowering individuals to take control of their health and health care. These improvements are an important first step in creating the sustainable program for those disabled and medically fragile. This connection to education, job training and treatment for substance use disorders is more than just health care. This supports individuals in achieving independence and a healthier life.”

Jonathan Copley, CEO, Aetna Better Health of Kentucky: “At Aetna Better Health of Kentucky, our mission is to improve the health of every life we touch. Receiving CMS approval is a key milestone to transforming the Medicaid system in Kentucky and is instrumental to us helping those in need – by improving the health care delivery system that empowers members to achieve a better quality of life. We are excited to be part of this transformational and innovative program, and achieve our mission.”

Celia Manlove, President, Anthem BlueCross BlueShield, Kentucky Medicaid:“Anthem Kentucky Medicaid health plan’s top priority is the health and well-being of our members,” said,. “We will continue to partner closely with the Cabinet for Health and Family services on the implementation of the state’s 1115 Medicaid Waiver to ensure our members have the support they need for a smooth transition, just as we successfully did with our members in the state of Indiana. We are firmly committed to continue to enhance our programs and provide high quality care to our Medicaid members, ensuring improved health outcomes.”

Mark B. Carter, CEO, Passport Health Plan: “Passport has been collaborating for months with the Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services (DMS) and our extensive provider network to prepare for the Kentucky HEALTH program. We will be working with all of our members and the providers in our network to help them understand the changes that will be coming over the next few months. As the state’s only nonprofit Medicaid managed care organization, we know how important it is to be strong financial stewards while also providing top-quality care for our members, and we will continue to work with our many community partners and providers around the Commonwealth to help all Kentuckians live healthier lives.”

Bill Jones, State President, WellCare of Kentucky: “As Kentucky’s largest Medicaid plan, WellCare supports Governor Bevin’s initiative to modernize the state Medicaid program. We share his priority of ensuring that Medicaid members receive the highest quality healthcare services in the most efficient manner possible, and look forward to implementing best practices that support and complement our shared goal of an innovative Kentucky Medicaid program that improves the health outcomes of Kentuckians.”

Kristie Whitlatch, President and CEO of King’s Daughters Health System: “We agree that it has to be the priority for Kentucky to improve the health and well being of our citizens. We appreciate the hard work that has gone into developing the Kentucky Health program. Healthcare is a very complex issue that requires a comprehensive approach. Long-term improvement will only be achieved when individuals, communities, providers and insurers work together. Kentucky Health provides a step in that direction. King’s Daughters Health System is committed to working with all stakeholders to reduce the cost of healthcare and improve the health of the communities we serve.”

Kentucky HEALTH is an innovative approach that will put Kentuckians on a path to better health, and is key to ensuring the long-term viability of the Medicaid program. In addition, Kentucky HEALTH will ensure availability of Medicaid resources to our most vulnerable citizens by saving an initial estimated $2 billion dollars (federal and state) over the waiver demonstration period, allowing these funds to be focused on those most in need and other critical areas. Additional program information will be shared in the coming weeks. In the meantime, more details can be found at www.KentuckyHEALTH.ky.gov.

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