How Kentucky’s Cuts to Medicaid Recipients’ Vision and Dental Care Affects More Than Just Their Health

A dental hygienist at a community health center.

A dental hygienist at a community health center.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) announced on Monday that he would cut vision and dental benefits for approximately 500,000 Medicaid recipients in the state. His decision to terminate the benefits follows a ruling last week by a federal court against the state’s proposed Medicaid waiver, which would have imposed work requirements and monthly premiums on many Medicaid recipients and was approved by the Trump administration back in January.

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The cuts could be temporary: The court didn’t determine the waiver was necessarily in violation of the law, just that it would need to be further reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services before it could be implemented. (Bevin had pushed for the law to go into effect on July 1st.)

Bevin’s administration said the decision was necessary in light of the court’s ruling. “This is an unfortunate consequence of the judge’s ruling,” a cabinet official said. “Once we ultimately prevail in this legal challenge … then beneficiaries will have access to these optional services.”