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Kentucky Cuts Vision and Dental Benefits For Up To 460,000 Medicaid Beneficiaries
As many as 460,000 Medicaid beneficiaries in Kentucky have had their dental and vision coverage cut by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's administration.
The move was announced on the weekend and came after Bevin's Medicaid overhaul plan was blocked Friday by a federal judge, the Associated Press reported.
Officials in Bevin's administration blamed the cuts on the judge's ruling, saying it removed a "legal mechanism" to pay for Medicaid dental and vision coverage for hundreds of thousands of people, and left too little time to reverse planning for the state's Medicaid overhaul.
Officials also said they were working to reinstate the dental and vision benefits, the AP reported.
The cuts were condemned by Democrats and others.
The Bevin administration's "short-sighted" actions are already causing confusion and hardship, according to Democratic state Rep. Joni Jenkins, the AP reported.
"We have folks that are showing up for dental appointments that they made months ago and neither they nor the providers are really certain what the rules are," she said. "And that's just unacceptable for government to be operating this way."
Jenkins also warned that the cuts could increase drug addiction in Kentucky, the AP reported.
"We know that untreated dental pain is a huge gateway to addiction to painkillers," Jenkins said.
The cuts were "totally uncalled for" and could lead to another court challenge, according to Sheila Schuster, an advocate for the disabled and people without health insurance, the AP reported.
"The real question is: Are they within their legal authority to suspend benefits that are part of this program and are part of the essential health benefits without any due notice and without any hearings?" Schuster said. "I think that's a question to be resolved in the courts."
The court ruling against Kentucky's plan to overhaul its Medicaid program was also a setback for the Trump administration, which has encouraged states to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries and make other changes to the program, the AP reported.
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