State getting closer to Medicaid waiver, official says

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky’s top Medicaid official said the state is getting closer to winning federal approval of a Medicaid waiver that has been sought by Gov. Matt Bevin for more than a year.

Steve Miller, commissioner of the Department for Medicaid Services, within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, made his comments during an appearance before the General Assembly’s Medicaid Oversight and Advisory Committee on Wednesday.

He said remarks last week by the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services indicate they will be approving the waivers that come forth with community engagement.

“It is very much in sync with where we are, and what we have presented to CMS, some 16 months ago,” said Miller. “In the conversations we’ve had with CMS since then, they even say we are real close.

“There are no outstanding issues, they’re not asking us for additional information to help clarify points, it’s in their ballpark right now for an internal review.”

The waiver is needed to implement Kentucky HEALTH, a comprehensive plan by the Bevin administration to transform Kentucky’s Medicaid program, empowering individuals to improve their health and well-being while simultaneously ensuring Medicaid’s long-term fiscal sustainability in the commonwealth.

Miller said they hoped to fully implement the program July 1, 2018. Although it is dependent on receiving the waiver, he said, “Nothing has taken place, as of yet, that would cause us to set back the time frame.”

Committee co-chairman Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, asked what the projected savings would be, once Kentucky HEALTH is implemented. “We’re still looking at $2.1 billion total expenditures, with total savings somewhere in the neighborhood of $300 million,” Miller said.

While there will be additional expenses incurred during the first two years, due to start-up costs, Miller told the panel savings will be seen in the second year with full savings in the third.