Kentucky Politics

Legislators will discuss a proposed bill meant to deter fraud and push people into the workforce Thursday, but the proposal faces criticism from those arguing it will create barriers to public aid and cost the state more money.

House Bill One is a top priority for the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. The bill looks to expand Medicaid eligibility to people earning between 138 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level, consolidate cash assistance program funds into one electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card, and create restrictions on how people use those funds. If people do not follow those restrictions, they can be suspended or banned from all public assistance programs.

You can read the full bill here.

Dustin Pugel, a senior policy analyst for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy think tank, which opposes the legislation, said the bill is based on stereotypes and anecdotes that would hurt Kentuckians and cost the state more money.

“We need to really focus on what’s best for folks who are using these programs, and find ways of supporting them rather than punishing them,” Pugel said. “There’s all kinds of ways that we know work, and we just don’t see those in this bill.”

Pugel said child care assistance and lowered health care costs  would encourage more aid recipients to get jobs because it give would give them more time to work and fewer worries that they would lose their healthcare. House Speaker David Osborne and House Speaker Pro Tem David Meade, sponsors of the bill, weren’t available for comment.