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Kentucky looks to overhaul Medicaid program as ACA debate continues

As legislators on Capitol Hill work toward passing a bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a number of states are taking steps to dismantle key provisions brought about by former President Barack Obama's comprehensive health care law.

In Kentucky, Gov. Matt Bevin has unveiled a plan that intends to transform the state's Medicaid program, an initiative his office said will help individuals improve their prospects for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, while allowing the state to address a considerable budget shortfall. Bevin, who informed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in January 2016 of Kentucky's intentions to shut down its health insurance exchange under the ACA, later moved recipients to the federal enrollment website last year. Bevin's administration is still awaiting approval of the plan from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In the meantime, Bevin submitted a demonstration waiver to HHS in 2016 that his administration said would "ensure long term sustainability" of the state's Medicaid program. As part of Bevin's push to revamp the state's Medicaid program, the proposal includes a provision that would require enrollees to pay up to $15 a month in premiums, while performing other employment-related activities, the Journal reported. At the same time, a large percentage of the state Medicaid's 1.4 million enrollees could lose coverage if the proposed changes in the American Health Care Act are approved, according to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.

Several other states are mulling proposals designed at modifying their Medicaid programs, the Journal reported. A proposal in Maine could impose financial penalties for Medicaid patients who miss medical appointments, while Wisconsin is considering a bill that could add drug screenings for recipients of the program, the news outlet noted.