While the Trump regime is waist-deep in saving Don Jr.'s ass and the Senate GOP is still trying to push Trumpcare over the finish line, there's still plenty of damage that GOP governors can do to Medicaid expansion and taking health care away from thousands, as our own Gov. Matt Bevin is trying to prove.
In a move the state says would save money but cut another 9,000 people from Medicaid, Gov. Matt Bevin's administration is seeking permission from the federal government for more changes to the state-federal health plan that serves 1.4 million Kentuckians.
The changes, filed this week, revise a sweeping plan to the state's Medicaid program Bevin proposed last year seeking federal permission, or a "waiver," to reshape the program in order to impose more costs and personal responsibility on consumers.
The Bevin administration said the changes, aimed largely at "able-bodied" adults, are part of an effort to "provide dignity to individuals" and help them toward "independence from public assistance."
The changes are not designed to cut anyone from Medicaid, according to Doug Hogan, a spokesman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Rather, the administration expects Medicaid enrollment to drop as people transition to employer health plans or choose not to participate in requirements such as work or volunteering.
But health care advocates in Kentucky said the changes do nothing to improve the proposal Bevin introduced last year and worsen it in several ways, most significantly increasing from about 86,000 to 95,000 the number of people expected to lose health coverage over the five-year life of the plan.
They say many people will find the new requirements excessively complex and will lose coverage because they are unable to meet them.
"In my mind, this just takes a bad waiver and makes it worse," said Dustin Pugel, a research associate with the Kentucky Center on Economic Policy.
So even if the Senate GOP Trumpcare plan crashes and burns, nearly 100,000 Kentuckians are going to lose their Medicaid anyway as Bevin plans to add more hoops to jump through and make it too hard for thousands to get. And remember should Trumpcare pass, these waiver plans are exactly what Republican governors will use to make Medicaid so difficult to qualify for again that tens of millions will lose their health care for good.
But even if existing Obamacare law doesn't change, Trump's HHS will approve all kinds of waivers for red states, and the number of uninsured will rise dramatically nationwide. If "make it nearly impossible to get and then blame people who don't go through the hoops" sounds familiar, it's the GOP plan on abortion and voter ID access too. Now it's coming to Medicaid.
And Bevin can't wait to toss tens of thousands to the wolves.