Bevin spoke to reporters after his Chamber interview. (Photo by Jack Brammer, Lexington Herald-Leader)
By Al Cross
Kentucky Health News
Gov. Matt Bevin gave a vigorous defense of his plan to require work or other activities by “able-bodied” adults without dependents who are on Medicaid, in an interview at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce‘s Business Summit and Annual Meeting in Louisville on Friday, July 12.
“Is there anyone in this room that thinks it is a good idea for able-bodied, working-age men and women between the ages of 19 and 64 who have no dependents – and they’re able-bodied, they’re healthy – and they choose not to work?” Bevin asked. “How many of you think it’s a good idea for you to subsidize them and allow them not to work? Anybody? That’s what Andy Beshear believes. I don’t. That’s what his father believed. I don’t. We’re not helping people by that.”
Attorney General Andy Beshear, the Democratic nominee challenging the Republican incumbent, is the son of Steve Beshear, who as governor in 2014 used the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid to people with household incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level: $16,753 for individuals, $22,715 for a couple and $34,638 for a family of four.
“They should do one of five things I have proposed for 20 hours a week, four hours a day, five days a week,” Bevin said. “Work, go to school, volunteer, be in training for a specific job, take care of somebody that the state would otherwise be paying for to be taken care of.” The fifth option, which Bevin didn’t mention, would be enrollment in treatment for substance-use disorder.
Bevin said the lack of community-engagement rules “sets a bad precedent. It creates a sense of entitlement and expectation, and it sets a bad example for next generations of children who see their parents not going to work, and working the system. There are hundreds of thousands of people in this state that could be going to work, should be going to work, and choose not to go to work. That is their prerogative; they can choose that, but you should not be expected to subsidize that choice if they could choose otherwise.”
Bevin said he grew up in poverty, without health care, and his body still shows it. “I’m empathetic to that world, not sympathetic. But I know for a fact that if you give people something when they don’t need it, in the case of these able-bodied people, you don’t have it to provide to the people who do need it.” (For a transcript of his remarks, go here.)
Beshear declined to appear at the Chamber meeting, saying the group supports Bevin and his agenda. The Chamber said it has a history of working with officials of both parties.