Legislators urge Governor Bevin to reinstate dental and vision Medicaid benefits

Published: Jul. 10, 2018 at 3:21 PM EDT
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More than one week after Governor Matt Bevin cut dental and vision care from nearly 500,000 people on Medicaid, several state representatives are urging Bevin to reconsider.

Tuesday morning, State Representatives Angie Hatton and Chris Harris were joined by Democratic Leader of the House Rocky Adkins and several state leaders in Pikeville where they urged Bevin to reverse his decision to cut vision and dental from Medicaid coverage and immediately reinstate the benefits.

Effective July 1, 460,000 Kentuckians on Medicaid lost their dental and vision care with no warning.

Christina Bates is one of thousands who lost their benefits.

Her family and many others are confused about why their benefits are gone.

"We haven't got notified I saw it on the news and that's how I learned that our whole family was losing their dental and vision coverage. We got no notification in the mail whatsoever," said Bates.

Bates' husband is in medical school and her family needs help while he studies.

"We relied on these services I actually had an appointment because I have a cavity, unfortunately, and I was going to get it taken care of and then all of this happened and so now I can't keep that appoitment because I'll have to pay for it out of pocket, which is just not realistic for us right now with no income," said Bates.

The decision comes following a judge's ruling to block Bevin's Medicaid overhaul.

"When we have decisions that are made arbitrarily seemingly cruelly without input from stakeholders and without the opportunity to have input from people who will be hurt by this decision then the worst thing we can do is nothing," said Angie Hatton, State Representative for the 94th District.

Hatton and Harris believe some of the people hurt the worst by this decision are those in Eastern Kentucky.

Harris said already doctors are canceling appointments with patients who lost their benefits.

"These are the working poor, low wage earners across the commonwealth who are getting up, going to work, but they don't make enough money to afford healthcare, to afford the care that they need," said Chris Harris, State Representative for the 93rd District.

Hatton believes the cuts will hurt Eastern Kentucky's economy.

"Medicaid expansion has been a 3.5 million dollar addition to our economy and in Eastern Kentucky, we can't stand to lose more jobs and our healthcare industry will lose jobs because of this," said Hatton.

Harris said Bevin and his cabinet make the decision on who is covered by Medicaid and who is not.

"And so without specific legislation to change that the governor has the decision, he makes, he and his cabinet, his administration make the decision on who is covered and who is not covered," said Harris.

Harris encourages everyone who lost benefits to use social media to share their story and ask for change.

WYMT reached out to state officials for comment, but have yet to hear back.