Kentucky Gov Expands Medicaid to Include Dental, Vision and Hearing

On Wednesday, Kentucky’s Democratic governor announced a plan to expand the state’s Medicaid program to include dental, vision and hearing care for adults.

Gov. Andy Beshear’s plan to expand the services available under Medicaid in Kentucky will impact around 900,000 adults enrolled in the program. New benefits will take effect January 1, 2023.

Medicaid is a program that provides coverage for individuals and families with low incomes in the U.S. It is jointly funded by the federal government and the state. Kentucky a single adult is only eligible for the program if they earn less than $18,075 per yearIf the household income is less than $36,908 for four families, then adults are eligible.

The state will now be able to provide care for low-income residents who were previously unable to afford it. If they have Medicaid, their children are already eligible to receive hearing, vision, or dental care.

Beshear assured residents that the changes won’t have a major effect on state spending, pointing out that Kentucky already has a healthy Medicaid budget and that federal funding will pay for most of the costs associated with expanding coverage.

Federal dollars will account for 90 percent of the expansionIt will cost approximately $36 million annually. Kentucky will cover the remaining 10 percent of yearly costs, which amount to around $3.6 million per year — equivalent to approximately 8.5 percent of the state’s total government spendingIn fiscal year 2022.

“It will have no significant impact on Kentucky’s budget. It will require no changes to our budget in this next session,” Beshear said. “In other words, it is easily affordable, which means we absolutely should do it.”

Beshear praised the changes for their benefits to workers in Kentucky.

“If you can’t see, it’s really hard to work,” Beshear said. “If you can’t hear the instructions that you’re getting, it’s really hard to work. If you have massive dental problems that are creating major pain or other complications, it’s really hard to work.”

Beshear’s announcement was praised by analysts in the state.

“This is a big deal!” tweeted Dustin PugelThe Kentucky Center for Economic Policy. “Kentucky Medicaid has long offered vision and dental, but they offered scant services — for example you could get an eye exam, but not glasses. It has never offered hearing benefits. It is a great on [the Cabinet for Health and Family Services] for implementing these long-overdue benefits.”