Kentucky’s Attorney General Andy Beshear, running for governor against Republican incumbent Matt Bevin, reacts to statewide election results at his watch party in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., November 5, 2019. Picture taken November 5, 2019.
Harrison McClary | REUTERS
Kentucky Governor-elect Andy Beshear pledged Wednesday to immediately rescind the state’s Medicaid work requirement, a controversial measure backed by the Trump administration that requires people to have work or job training to gain coverage.
In week one, the administration will rescind the measure, “saving health care for 95,000 Kentuckians,” Beshear said at a press conference Wednesday, following his victory late Tuesday against Republican Matt Bevin in the state’s election for governor.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 27% of people in Kentucky are insured through Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor. Bevin’s administration forecasted that 95,000 of the 400,000 Kentuckians on Medicaid would lose coverage if the requirement were implemented.
The Department of Health and Human Services early last year approved the state’s Medicaid work requirement, becoming the first state to win federal approval for such a plan. However, the requirement remains in limbo as the measure is being fought in court.
Bevin’s attempts to slow Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, became a central issue in the Kentucky race for governor.
Arkansas became the first state to implement the rules, immediately resulting in 18,000 Medicaid recipients being booted from the program. Nine states have been approved for the requirement, with nine other states waiting for the Trump administration’s blessing.
The Trump administration and states who support the rules argue the measure would help improve low-income adults’ economic situation and health by requiring them to work, despite studies that show most people on Medicaid do work or have disabilities that interfere with their ability to work.
The measure comes as a federal appeals court in New Orleans is expected to issue a decision soon on a lower court ruling that overturned Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, in a case known as Texas vs. the United States.
About 25 million Americans may be left uninsured if the law is struck down in its entirety, including those insured through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.