The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services says the state has sought input from a variety of groups about upcoming Medicaid changes and host forums like the one pictured, which was held earlier this month in Louisville. | Photo by Darla Carter

The state has shrugged off a request from a consumer advocacy coalition to create a stakeholders advisory council to help with the implementation of upcoming Medicaid changes.

Kentucky Voices for Health delivered a letter to Scott Brinkman, acting secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, last Thursday asking for a Kentucky HEALTH Advisory Council to be created.

Kentucky Voices for Health had not received a formal response from the state as of early Tuesday afternoon, according to Executive Director Emily Beauregard.

But Cabinet spokesman Doug Hogan told Insider Louisville that the state already has sought input and feedback from various groups, and “at this time, we will continue with our current approach.”

Beauregard said she was disappointed to hear of the state’s stance. She doesn’t think the state’s approach, which has included forums where the public can submit questions on index cards, is “the same as a collaborative approach.”

“It doesn’t offer us the opportunity to really air concerns or just resolve any sort of confusion or system issues, and at the end of the day, I don’t think that the state is going to be as prepared or as capable of implementing this program without strong, ongoing stakeholder relationships,” she said.

The Kentucky HEALTH program is the state’s Section 1115 Medicaid waiver. The program, which is being challenged in court, will require some Medicaid enrollees to complete about 20 hours a week of community engagement, such as work or volunteering.

In a letter signed by nearly 40 organizations, from the American Heart Association and AARP Kentucky to the Park DuValle Community Health Center and Wellspring, Kentucky Voices for Health asked that a stakeholders council be put in place to help shepherd the changes.

The council should be “made up of a broad range of stakeholders to work through any unforeseen system issues and misunderstandings, both prior to and during the phased implementation of Kentucky HEALTH, to proactively and quickly address and resolve questions and issues that may arise,” the letter said.

However, in an email to Insider, Hogan said that “the concern in having an Advisory Council is that there is always a risk of not being inclusive enough.”

He noted that the state has sought input and feedback from what it considers to be front-line and representative groups, such as the Kentucky Hospital Association, a Medicaid Advisory Committee, the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence and local workforce boards, throughout the process.

In addition, he noted the state has been holding stakeholder and provider forums and tries to attend “any and every meeting to which we are asked.”

But Beauregard pointed out the groups that signed the letter want “a seat at the table where they have a consistent opportunity for getting information, asking questions, providing input and actually getting a response and having a conversation.”