LOUISVILLE, KY. (AP) — Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is cutting dental and vision coverage for nearly a half-million Kentuckians after his Medicaid overhaul plan was rejected in court.
The state Cabinet for Health and Family Services calls the cuts an “unfortunate consequence” of Friday’s ruling by a federal judge who said Kentucky can’t require poor people to get jobs to keep their Medicaid benefits.
U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg’s rejection of the Republican governor’s plan to overhaul the state’s Medicaid program is a setback for President Donald Trump’s administration, which has been encouraging states to impose limits on the state and federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana’s Department of Health will begin sending nursing home eviction notices Thursday to more than 30,000 residents who could lose Medicaid under the budget passed by the state House of Representatives.
“The Louisiana Department of Health is beginning the process of notifying all impacted enrollees that some people may lose their Medicaid eligibility,” Department of Health spokesman Bob Johannessen said. “The goal of the department is to give notice to all affected people as soon as possible in order that they begin developing their appropriate plans.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ staff has planned a press conference Wednesday for more details, a day before the notices are set to be mailed to 37,000 Medicaid recipients in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities.
“(The Department of Health) told us they’re sending out the letters May 10,” said Mark Berger, executive director of the Louisiana Nursing Home Association, during testimony at the Senate Finance Committee meeting Monday.
In the past, most contracts that families were required to sign with the nursing homes they were placing their loved one in had binding arbitration clauses. By signing these contracts, families basically signed away their right to bring a civil case against the nursing home if something detrimental happened to their loved one.
Last year, a new rule went into effect that gave that right back to nursing home patients and their families. They were no longer forced to settle through arbitration if their loved one had suffered abuse, neglect, sexual assault, or wrongful death. This new rule was ordered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
In response, the nursing home industry filed a lawsuit, claiming that the CMS did not have the authority to make that rule change. A judge issued a preliminary injunction until the case could be heard in court.
It looks like that will not be happening, however, as the CMS recently announced it would not be fighting the lawsuit, but will instead reverse the rule, claiming that it put an “unnecessary burden on nursing homes.”
The only requirement of the binding arbitration clause now is that it needs to be in clear and easy to understand language. In addition to the for-profit nursing homes, there were other businesses and organizations who were in favor of mandating binding arbitration, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. All of these groups argued that lawsuits were costly and time-consuming.
However, the majority of public comments made in favor of keeping the rule came directly from nursing home abuse victims and their families, who share details of horrific abuse and neglect that were inflicted upon elderly patients. A spokesperson for CMS said the agency was reviewing all public comments pertaining to said abuses and negligence. They have three years to issue a final rule; however, the spokesperson said that it may be issued sooner.
Upon hearing of the agency’s decision to reverse their rule, Attorney Darryl Kogan commented, “This is appalling. Without the threat of having to answer in a court of law, nothing holds these facilities accountable. The terrible abuses our seniors suffer need to stop and this is not going to help.”
The Trump administration is taking aim at Medicaid yet again, specifically with lifetime coverage limits, according to a McClatchy report Monday evening.
Just weeks after unveiling guidance that will allow states to impose Medicaid work requirements, Trump’s Health and Human Services agency is reportedly attempting to limit the number of months adults have access to the safety net program. The cap, if approved, would be the first of its kind in Medicaid’s history.
Medicaid, which is jointly funded by states and the federal government, provides health insurance to low-income and disabled people. Steps to cap benefits are another attempt in a long line of crack-downs by the Trump administration, which hopes to reduce the government’s obligation to help the needy.
Since Trump took office, the administration has worked to slash the safety net program in its attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and through federal waivers. The lifetime coverage limit is the latest federal waiver proposal, which the administration and their allies claim would allow states more flexibility and encourage fiscal responsibility for both governing entities and those who are covered by the program.
In reality, many of the federal waivers mean that thousands of people will lose vital coverage.
Last month, the administration approved waiver requests from Indiana and Kentucky, allowing them to impose work requirements, but five states — Arizona, Kansas, Utah, Maine, and Wisconsin — want to take that a step further by implementing the aforementioned lifetime limits as well.
As someone who got his start as a community organizer, President Obama’s entire career has revolved around the idea that ordinary people working together can do extraordinary things. So I hope you can take part in marking his 50th birthday… This Wednesday, August 3rd, campaign volunteers will get together for house meetings in all 50 states. We’ll plan local events… and talk about how to spread the word about the President’s accomplishments…
Can you attend a house meeting…? RSVP now.
I replied with this:
What are “the president’s accomplishments?” His unprecedented (for a Democrat) efforts to tear down the social safety net that evolved from the New Deal? To my shame, I voted for Obama, but I’m certainly not going to help celebrate his ongoing dismantlement of the Democratic Party.
But there’s a better way to express discontent about Obama’s refusal to back tax hikes for the rich and his unwillingness to defend Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Simply show up at one of the house meetings and tell those present what you think of his ongoing cave-in to right-wingers.