Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin said it was an "exciting day" as he announced the state's request to roll back its Medicaid expansion and place work requirements on Medicaid recipients was approved by federal authorities.
"I am excited by the fact that Kentucky will now lead the nation," Bevin said at a news conference at the Capitol Rotunda. "We're ready to show America how this can and will be done."
Bevin's announcement comes just days after the Trump administration announced new waivers that will permit states to enforce work requirements, with administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Seema Verma saying the move will help free people from poverty.
But not everyone sees the upside to taking away health care or creating new obstacles for those who are in need. Kentucky Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth said Friday that the move is "dangerous and irresponsible".
Kentucky Voices for Health, a coalition of health organizations, is of similar opinion:
Gov. Bevin's plan to reform Kentucky Medicaid remains out-of-touch with what low-income, working Kentuckians and vulnerable families need to truly get healthy, stay healthy and contribute in their communities," the group said in a statement Friday.
The Republican governor reiterated Verma's stance, saying "This is a program that will allow people to rise up out of poverty."
Bevin's plan would require some adults to work or volunteer at least 20 hours a week or be in school or job training to keep health benefits. He has said it will inject more personal responsibility into the government health plan and he believes participants should have some "skin in the game."
It is unlikely that Kentucky will be the last state to move toward work requirements for Medicaid recipients. Several states attempted to have such programs permitted under the Obama administration but were denied.
Verma said that the administration of President Trump, a Republican, will approve the work requirements that had been denied under President Obama, according to a report from Kaiser Health News.
She denounced the Obama policy as "soft bigotry of low expectations" and said "those days are over," Kaiser News said.