Health advocacy group that opposes new Medicaid proposal to hold eight community forums across the state to discuss it

This story was updated on 9/23/16.

Kentucky Voices for Health will host eight community forums across the state to discuss Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to the state’s Medicaid program during the 30-day federal comment period, which ends Oct. 8.

Each event will feature a brief presentation about the proposed changes, allow time for questions and will provide an opportunity for attendees to discuss how the proposed changes will impact them, their families and their communities, according to the website.

KVH opposes the governor’s new proposal, saying on its website blog that it is “costly, complex and greatly reduces access to care.”

The governor’s new Medicaid proposal was submitted to the federal government in the form of a waiver from federal rules, under a section of law allowing for demonstration programs. It mainly targets able-bodied adults who now qualify for Medicaid under the expansion of this program to those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. It does not affect children, pregnant women, the medically frail and adults who were eligible for Medicaid before the expansion.

The proposal is designed to encourage participants to have a higher level of involvement in their health care, through premiums and “community engagement” requirements, and to save taxpayers money by reducing enrollment by about 86,000 people. All of these conditions are controversial and could be denied by the federal government. To date, no proposal with work requirements has been approved.

Bevin has said that if this new plan is not approved, “there will be no expanded Medicaid in Kentucky,” a decision that would take away Medicaid coverage from 430,000 Kentuckians who now qualify under the expansion, but he has also said he is willing to negotiate with federal officials.

Six of Kentucky’s congressional delegation have sent a letter to  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell in support of the governor’s new Medicaid plan, asking that it be afforded “a fair and timely review and allow the Commonwealth the opportunity to demonstrate that the Kentucky HEALTH waiver proposal can improve health outcomes while also protecting the long-term viability of the Medicaid program.”

Kentucky HEALTH is the official name of the governor’s plan and stands for Helping to Engage and Achieve Long Term Health.

The letter was signed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul, Rep. Brett Guthrie, Rep. Hal Rogers, Rep. Andy Barr and Rep. Thomas Massie, all Republicans.

Here’s the schedule for the forums:

Sept. 26 – Morehead: Morehead Conference Center, 111 E 1st Street, 6-8 p.m.
Sept. 27 – Paducah: McCracken County Public Library, 555 Washington St., 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Sept. 27 – Lexington: Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary, 601 Hill N Dale Dr., 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Sept. 29 – Elizabethtown: Pritchard Community Center, 404 S. Mulberry St., 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 3 – Prestonsburg: Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, 75 Theatre Ct., 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 4 – London: First Baptist Church, 804 W. 5th St., 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 5 – Louisville: First Unitarian Church, 809 S. Fourth St., 6-8 p.m.
Oct. 6 – Covington: Kenton County Public Library, 502 Scott Blvd., 6:30-8:30 p.m.

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