Health and Family Services Cabinet

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, January 18, 2006  
Contact Information:  Brett Hall, Jodi Whitaker or Troy Brody - (502) 564-2611
Vikki Franklin - (502) 564-6786

Governor Fletcher announced today that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has granted initial approval of Kentucky Medicaid’s 1115 waiver, granting the state the flexibility to transform Medicaid into a sustainable program that will improve the health status of members.

“The Medicaid program as it exists today is simply unsustainable. We have a responsibility to ensure that Medicaid will be available to provide health care for current and future generations of Kentuckians,” said Governor Ernie Fletcher. “The KyHealth Choices program will focus not only on stretching resources, but also on improving the health status of the 700,000 Kentuckians covered by Medicaid.”

 The KyHealth Choices program represents a significant milestone of the Fletcher administration's successful Medicaid Modernization initiative, which has already improved Medicaid’s benefit management, care management and technology infrastructure. KyHealth Choices will build on these new capacities. Kentucky expects to be the first state to implement a comprehensive statewide waiver designed to create long-term stability for Medicaid, because of this existing foundation.

 “In developing the waiver proposal, we have drawn from best practices in other states and the private sector to determine how we can operate the program more efficiently while improving the quality of care for Medicaid members," said Health and Family Services Cabinet Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell.

 The Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services (DMS) partnered with consumers, family members, advocacy organizations and health care providers to develop a waiver that would stretch resources to most appropriately meet the needs of members and encourage personal responsibility for health care. KyHealth Choices’ mission is to: improve the health status of Kentuckians enrolled in the Medicaid program; provide a continuum of care options; expand individual choice and engagement; and ensure the future solvency of the Medicaid program.

 The major components of the KyHealth Choices program are:

·        Targeted benefit packages

·        Consumer engagement through cost sharing and increased responsibility

·        The Health Insurance Purchasing Program

·        Integrated care

·        Disease management programs, and

·        Get Healthy Accounts to provide incentives for healthy behavior.

 Sen. Denton: “I appreciate the administration's work on this waiver,” said Sen. Julie Denton (R-Louisville). “They have demonstrated their dedication to finding an approach that would not cut eligibility and would ensure that the Medicaid population receives greater quality of care.”

 “This waiver is a valuable piece of the puzzle already in place,” said Rep. Jimmie Lee (D-Elizabethtown). “Without waiver approval, we would not have the flexibility needed to manage the care people receive and the program as a whole. This piece provides a vital link between Medicaid’s new capabilities in care management, benefit management and technology.”

 KyHealth Choices will provide health care coverage for Medicaid members throughout the state, except those currently being served by Passport and ventilator-dependent individuals served under an existing waiver. Current waivers for acquired brain injury, supports for community living and home and community based services will be included in KyHealth Choices.

 The waiver can be viewed at the Medicaid home page under the announcements heading: