In a stunning show of vicious retaliation, the Republican Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, just canceled the vision and dental benefits for nearly half a million Medicaid recipients in his own state.
Furious that his cruel plan to force Medicaid recipients to work was slapped down by a federal judge, Bevin has decided to punish his state’s most vulnerable people out of spite and is shamelessly attempting to blame the judge’s ruling for it.
The Governor’s office announced that since he couldn’t force the poor to work for their benefits, he would impose a different kind of means-testing in order to squeeze every last drop of blood from his own voters:
Instead, they could earn points toward paying for services through a “My Rewards” account by completing activities such as online classes or volunteer work.
“When Kentucky HEALTH was struck down by the court, the ‘My Rewards Account’ program was invalidated, meaning there is no longer a legal mechanism in place to pay for dental and vision coverage for about 460,000 beneficiaries who have been placed in the Alternative Benefit Plan,” the email said. “As such, they no longer have access to dental and vision coverage as a result of the court’s ruling.”
Kentucky Democrats were furious with the Governor’s decision, questioning the legality of the move and decried it as “rash.”
“He said he wants to take dental and vision coverage away. We don’t think that’s legal either” said Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY).
Of course, Bevin’s argument is on very shaky ground to begin with, seeing as “the federal government provides about 80 percent of the money for Kentucky’s Medicaid program,” which costs about $11 billion a year and covers 1.4 million people including 600,000 kids.
Work requirements and other means-testing programs like the “MyRewards” program are cruel and are tinged with ideas of class eugenics, argues healthcare activists like Tim Faust.
Bevin’s appalling reaction to the judge’s ruling proves that Faust is right. This isn’t about budgets since the state doesn’t even have to pay for all that much.
This petty act of cruelty is about punishing poor people for being poor and about making sure that no resource or capital trickles down to our most vulnerable and deprived citizens without extracting something in return, be it their labor, or what little money they actually have left, or even just their dignity.