LePage praises new path for work requirements for Medicaid

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator during her Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing in Washington on Feb. 16 2017. MUST CREDIT Bloomberg

Trump Clears Path for States to Require Employment for Medicaid

The move is a major shift in policy, but not a surprise for the Trump administration.

The Trump Administration is clearing the way for states to attach work requirements for Medicaid, an announcement that sparked outrage among health care advocates. They are eligible for a waiver request in part because they have agreed to test Medicaid demonstration programs. Advocates for low-income people say they expect Kentucky's waiver to be approved shortly.

More than 4 in 10 adults with Medicaid coverage already work full time, and most others either go to school, take care of a relative or are too sick to work. The link between government help and work later was extended to anti-hunger efforts through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps are now called.

Democrats and health advocacy groups blasted the policy and said it would make it more hard for the most vulnerable Americans to have access to healthcare services.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced new guidelines Thursday created to help state implement work and volunteer requirements for "able-bodied" Medicaid recipients.

The new rules will affect "able-bodied, working-age Medicaid beneficiaries" in states that choose to seek waivers in-line with the new guidance.

But adding work requirement to Medicaid eligibility is strongly opposed by patient advocacy groups and a number of policy analysts.

As of October 2017, almost 75m individuals were enrolled in Medicaid and the children's health insurance program (Chip).

"It is a very major change in Medicaid that for the first time would allow people to be cut off for not meeting a work requirement, regardless of the hardship they may suffer", Judy Solomon with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities told the Associated Press.

"I see this as CMS giving states that are looking for flexibility, flexibility", Sudders said, using the acronym for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The remaining 27 percent were not working, but two-thirds of them had a chronic mental or physical health condition, and one quarter of them said this condition interfered with their ability to function on a daily basis.

In a statement released this afternoon, Baker's office said it "does not support applying work requirements to the MassHealth program". "It's not a good idea, and it's illegal". "It's making people healthier that enables them to work", he said. It's a little like saying that rain causes clouds.

The administration said states must fully comply with federal disability and civil rights laws to accommodate disabled people and prevent those who are medically frail from being denied coverage.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service.

Medicaid is the nation's largest public insurance program, providing health benefits to almost 74 million Americans, chiefly low-income adults. Cooper's administration hasn't asked for permission to add work requirements to the state's existing Medicaid health insurance program, which covers more than 2 million people.

A study in December in JAMA Internal Medicine found that about half of the Medicaid recipients in MI were already working. More than half of which are children.

Several states had previously addressed the notion of cutting off Medicaid benefits to people who can work, but don't, but the idea was repeatedly refused by former President Barack Obama's government, CNN reported Thursday.

"While work requirements are meant to promote work among those not working, coverage for those who are working could be at risk if beneficiaries face administrative obstacles in verifying their work status or documenting an exemption", KFF said.

The move is already amassing vocal critics. And "it is illegal because it contravenes Medicaid's goal of providing medical assistance to low-income and vulnerable people". For low-wage workers, such as waitresses with fluctuating wages, "it boggles my mind", Stewart said.

Under the rules, states can require Medicaid beneficiaries to work, volunteer or participate in job training. Many governors, including Republican ones, have defended the Medicaid program as being critical to addressing the substance abuse crisis.

Verma also had a major role in designing an unorthodox approach to Medicaid in IN, which had asked the Obama administration to approve a work requirement.

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