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State Seal Commonwealth of Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Ernie Fletcher unveils new Medicaid KYHealth cards
Press Release Date:  March 28, 2005
Contact:  Doug Hogan
Jeannie Lausche

 Frankfort, KY: Governor Ernie Fletcher today unveiled the new KyHealth Card that is expected to save the state up to $1.3 million dollars in the next year.

By July 1, the plastic cards will become permanent replacements for the paper cards issued monthly to the more than 685,000 current Medicaid members. Every new Medicaid enrollee will receive the new card after July.

“The card will make their trips to the doctor more about healing care from a physician and less about paperwork and eligibility,” Governor Fletcher said. “Our Medicaid members deserve the best possible care, and the providers they depend on will also reap the benefit of easier access to information about patients.”

Governor Fletcher was joined by Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary James W. Holsinger and other officials from the cabinet, the state agency that determines Medicaid eligibility and helps pay for services.

The state’s savings will come from eliminating or reducing the cost of staff time, postage and paper in mailing paper cards to households every month. The KYHealth Card is part of Governor Fletcher’s Medicaid Modernization efforts, working to bring the Medicaid program into the 21st century.

“Eliminating monthly issuances of paper cards reduces the risk of fraud and may even stop the abuse by some recipients of Medicaid’s already stressed pharmacy benefits program,” Governor Fletcher said.

Currently, the monthly issued paper cards list every Medicaid member in one household.

“It’s inefficient to expect a family of multiple recipients to share one card,” Dr. Holsinger said. “When family members travel, who gets the card?”

The KyHealth Card will be used for visits to the doctor, pharmacy, hospital or anywhere else a person receives medical care. This card should be used as long as a person receives medical assistance from the Kentucky Medicaid program. The permanent card will remain current through any address changes.

“The most important thing members should remember about the card is to not throw it away at the end of each month or if they lose Medicaid eligibility. If they become eligible at a later date, they can use the same plastic card,” Dr. Holsinger said.  “It’s well worth the adjustment for the money and time we’re saving staff, providers and especially Medicaid members.”

The card rollout will take place in three phases. About 124,000 people in Fayette, Jefferson and Clay counties will receive their cards beginning April 18. Beginning May 16, almost 259,000 Eastern and Central Kentuckians will get their cards. And about 282,000 people in Southern and Western Kentucky will receive their cards beginning June 17.

Members will be alerted to the change in a notice accompanying the card. As the rollout progresses, the cabinet will remind members of the change through local media, with posters at Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) offices and local health departments and information posted on Medicaid’s Web site.

EDS, a Texas-based business and technology company, was awarded the contract to produce and mail the cards by the state Department for Medicaid Services. The group will offer the cabinet technical support and weekly status reports on card issuance.

Medicaid providers in two counties – Clay and Fayette – have already heralded the ease of use from their involvement in the card’s pilot launch last July.

“The card’s magnetic strip is encoded in order to access a patient’s up-to-date eligibility and medical information. A simple ‘swipe’ through a card reader calls up this information, or providers have online and toll-free phone access 24 hours a day, every day. As a physician, I’d say that’s something that any medical care provider can appreciate,” Governor Fletcher added.

Starting this month, Medicaid providers across the state will be invited to 25 regional training sessions and will also view training materials online to learn how to use the swipe and online systems. Providers can visit to find out about training sessions in their area.

The KyHealth Card features the new “Kentucky: Unbridled Spirit” state brand, making the card release the largest mass distribution of the brand to date.

“As this administration stands by our commitment to eliminating waste and promoting efficiency, we again celebrate the spirit of change that’s improving the quality of life for all Kentuckians,” Governor Fletcher said.

Note to editors: Log on to to find electronic copies of the rollout map, a list of counties in each roll out phase and an image of the new KyHealth card.


Last updated: Thursday, June 02, 2005