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Kentucky reinstates dental, vision benefits in Medicaid

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Kentucky reinstates dental, vision benefits in Medicaid

The administration of Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is reinstating dental and vision benefits for about 500,000 Medicaid enrollees in the state after abruptly canceling the coverage earlier this month.

The decision earlier this month had prompted outrage from Democrats, and local media had reported dentists turning people away who needed care.

Bevin’s administration had made the move after a federal judge blocked the state’s proposal to impose work requirements in Medicaid. Officials at the time said the cancellation was an “unfortunate consequence of the judge’s ruling,” though advocates said the judge’s ruling did not require the cancellation of these benefits.

But in a reversal, Bevin’s administration said late Thursday that it is reinstating the benefits. Officials said they recognized that the work requirement program would “not begin as soon as we hoped,” and they wanted to avoid “a prolonged coverage gap.”

Democrats had denounced Bevin’s earlier move.

“In his haste to strip these services away from families across Kentucky, Governor Bevin gave no warning to patients or guidance to providers, resulting in chaos and reports of men, women, and children being denied access to the treatments they need – forced to walk away from appointments and scheduled procedures,” Rep. John Yarmuth , the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation, wrote to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar earlier this month.

After the judge blocked Kentucky’s work requirement proposal last month, the Trump administration on Wednesday tried to keep it alive for now by announcing a new 30-day comment period on the plan.

Officials hope reviewing comments will demonstrate to the judge that the administration gave adequate consideration to possible coverage losses, which the judge faulted them for ignoring in his ruling.

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