Foundation Initiative to Help Medicaid Population Keep Health Coverage, Access to Substance Use Treatment

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky today announced that it will partner with the Bevin Administration to help Kentuckians maintain coverage under the Kentucky HEALTH Medicaid waiver demonstration program. The Foundation has hired Veronica Judy Cecil to oversee the initiative.

Ensuring that those with substance use disorders can obtain treatment and work toward long-term recovery and employment will be an initial, primary focus of the initiative, the Foundation said. About one-third of Kentucky’s Medicaid population suffers with drug and other substance use disorders. Under the waiver program, Medicaid covers the cost of treatment for those diagnosed with such a disorder.

“Our singular goal in this project is to help ensure that as many Kentuckians as possible who are currently eligible for Medicaid are able to retain their health coverage for necessary health care,” said Ben Chandler, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “If they need substance use treatment, we want to help them get it. If they need support getting and keeping a job or paying premiums, we want to help make that happen. Health coverage leads to better preventive care and better health. Neither the people nor the budget of Kentucky can afford the health costs of lapses in coverage.”

The Foundation will support Medicaid beneficiaries with meeting the waiver requirements and work with employers, providers, payers, assisters, advocates and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services toward that effort. In addition, the Foundation will create an advisory council to gather and share input among all stakeholders and resolve issues as the waiver is implemented.

“As a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization committed to making people healthier, the Foundation can play a unique role in creating safe spaces to gather and share this information, and help ensure the quickest, most equitable resolution,” Chandler said.

The Foundation will file articles of incorporation shortly for a new entity, the Kentucky Health Engagement Foundation (KHEF), to carry out this work. Cecil will serve as Executive Director of KHEF and also Vice President for Policy at the Foundation. Her position is effective June 1.

“Veronica has a deep knowledge of both the Kentucky Medicaid program and the waiver,” Chandler said. “She’s committed to ensuring those who need Medicaid can meet the waiver’s community engagement and premium requirements and to helping stakeholders understand the role they can play in keeping people from getting locked out of coverage. She’ll also be a huge asset as we pursue additional access to care initiatives and other program priorities at the Foundation.”

Cecil served as Deputy Commissioner in the Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services under both Governors Matt Bevin and Steve Beshear. She most recently has been a senior consultant for a health care consulting firm. Previously, she served with the Kentucky legislative leadership staff in Frankfort, directed Chandler’s Congressional office in Lexington, and also served in his office when he was Attorney General of Kentucky. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Kentucky and her J.D. at the University of Louisville.

A copy of the letter of agreement between the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is available here, a copy of their news release can be found here.

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Ben Keeton

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Ben is the publisher of Medical News and focuses on the business of healthcare in Kentucky.
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