Bevin wants ‘inaccurate and defamatory’ Democratic ad taken down; Frankfort paper finds it lacks context, but isn’t baseless

Gov. Matt Bevin has asked TV stations to take down what his campaign calls a “factually inaccurate and defamatory” commercial that says Bevin has tried to take health care away from children and people with pre-existing conditions.

The Bluegrass Values ad, funded by the Democratic Governors Association, features Hoppy Henton, a Democratic activist fromVersailes, who says Bevin has tried “to take away health-care coverage, including vision and dental, from children” and has sued “in court to take away protection now that people have for preexisting conditions.”

Davis Paine, Bevin’s campaign manager, said in a press release, “A look at the facts shows that every claim made in this ad is false,”

However, The State Journal of Frankfort reports, “Several claims made in the ad lack context, but they are not baseless.”

The crux of the matter is Bevin’s efforts to change Medicaid to require, among other things, “able-bodied” adults who are not primary caregivers to work, attend school, take job training, search for a job or volunteer 80 hours a month, if they don’t qualify for an exemption or are in drug treatment. The plan has been blocked twice by a federal judge in Washington, D.C.; his rulings will be considered by three appellate judges on Oct. 11.

After the plan was vacated the first time, the Bevin administration moved to end free dental and vision benefits from about 460,000 Medicaid patients who gained their health insurance through the expansion of Medicaid to those with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line.

The cuts did not apply to pregnant women or children, but for several weeks in July 2018, “The new system — reportedly through a glitch — also led to multiple children and pregnant women being denied vision and dental care, as reported by several independent news outlets,” Emily Laytham writes for The State Journal.

The Bevin administration eventually restored dental and vision benefits to the expansion population, as well as those unintentionally affected by the system glitch.

In its press release, the Bevin campaign does not mention the events of last summer, but cites a November letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services saying: “Beneficiaries receiving state plan benefits will continue to receive covered vision services, dental services, and over-the-counter medications . . . all beneficiaries under 21 years of age receiving services through the demonstration will continue to receive all early and periodic screening, diagnostic, and treatment services.”

The ad also suggests that Bevin is suing to “take away protections … for pre-existing conditions.”

In June, Bevin and 14 other state officials appealed a federal judge’s decision that limited access to association health plans, a type of insurance that makes it easier for small employers to band together, free of many of the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Such plans are intended to reduce small business owners’ cost of providing coverage.

The U.S. Department of Labor says association plans “may not charge higher premiums or deny coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions,” but Laytham reports, “Workarounds exist.”

According to the American Medical Association, “There is a significant risk that AHPs could disproportionately impact individuals with pre-existing conditions” by charging “based on factors that are not explicitly defined in terms of health or medical conditions, but that closely track those forbidden factors.”

The AMA notes that association plans are permitted to vary premiums by age, gender, industry and geography, factors that can be used to predict or anticipate pre-existing conditions.

Bevin’s campaign did not respond to The State Journal’s request for comment.

Attorney General Andy Beshear, the Democrat running against Bevin in the Nov. 5 gubernatorial election, says he would immediately rescind Bevin’s Medicaid plan if elected.