A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gov. Beshear announces state’s Medicaid program will expand to cover dental, vision, hearing services

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that beginning January 1, the state’s Medicaid program will be expanding to cover dental, vision and hearing services, not only to children, but to the nearly 900,000 adults who are Medicaid recipients, to help expand the state’s workforce.

“The goal here,” he said during a Capitol press conference, “is to get folks to work, and ultimately get them off Medicaid. If you can’t see, and you don’t have the access to resources to get the vision care you need, it doesn’t happen. It’s an impediment we have to push through to get people back to work.”

Gov. Beshear (Photo by Tom Latek/KyToday)

This Medicaid expansion will be for individuals who make less than $18,700 per year, or less than $38,000 for a family of four.
“What we’re doing today is the right thing for our people,” Beshear said. “Everybody deserves to be able to see, to hear, and to be without that massive and often chronic pain that often comes with dental services. But it is also a barrier that we must address if we want Medicaid to be temporary; if we want to get people back to work.”

Ben Chandler, president and chief executive officer of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said, “All the data shows that when you work, you have a much better chance of having good health. It’s a circular thing: You have to have good health to be able to work, and you have to work to be able to have good health. This is what the Governor is trying to address today.”

Beshear said,“Our strong economy and workforce should benefit all our Kentucky families, and that is why my administration is working to reach those who have left the workforce due to factors like incarceration, addiction, lack of access to childcare or poor health. This announcement is focused on improving health to get people back in the workforce by removing the roadblocks for many Kentuckians in accessing dental, vision and hearing care.”

According to the governor, the cost of the expansion can be handled within the Medicaid budget, along with some federal funding.

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