Medicaid work requirements clear White House hurdle

Randolph Lopez
January 12, 2018

A poll past year from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that 70 percent of the public supported allowing states to require Medicaid recipients to work, even as most Americans opposed deep Medicaid cuts sought by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration.

In order to implement any new policy based on the guidance, states would have to propose the changes through waivers and wait until they are granted federal approval.

Health groups and advocates for the poor - including the National Center for Law and Economic Justice and the American Lung Association - dispute Verma's contention that the Centers Medicare and Medicaid Service has the authority to grant such requests.

It found that almost half of them already work, and that 11 percent were unable to work.

Republican state Sen. Bill Coley defended Ohio's work requirement, saying people who are able bodied and not students should get a job so they can support themselves.

Ten states - Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin - have already filed applications with CMS to add work requirements to their Medicaid programs. Health officials could approve the first waiver - probably for Kentucky - as soon as Friday, according to two people with knowledge of the process.

The Obama administration stretched the guidelines for Medicaid coverage to allow millions of working adults to qualify for the program.

"Our policy guidance was in response to states that asked us for the flexibility they need to improve their programs and to help people in achieving greater well-being and self-sufficiency", she said.

If the price of expansion is backing a requirement most people already meet, "Oh, please don't throw me in that briar patch", Venable said.

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CMS additionally said the strategy would not make a difference to individuals with inabilities, the elderly, youngsters and pregnant ladies.

The federal government reimburses a portion of the money spent by states to provide Medicaid coverage for those who are eligible. "A strong Medicaid program. does more than just provide [beneficiaries] a card". About 70 percent of Americans say they support states imposing a work requirement on non-disabled adults, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll past year.

"All of this on paper may sound reasonable, but if you think about the people who are affected, you can see people will fall through the cracks", said Judy Solomon of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for the poor.

The changes are an opening salvo in the administration's push this year to overhaul federal safety net programs, with the White House asking departments and agencies across the government to review eligibility for low-income assistance programs.

The policy would exclude individuals who are elderly or disabled, pregnant women and children.

Republicans have been pushing for the change since the Affordable Care Act added millions of so called "able-bodied" adults to Medicaid. The ACA allowed states to expand eligibility to low-income adults without children, with the federal government covering most of the cost.

About 40 percent of nonelderly, non-disabled adults who have Medicaid coverage aren't working, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma touted the guidance, tweeting that "We owe beneficiaries more than a #Medicaid card; we owe them the opportunity and resources to connect with job skills, training and employment so they can rise out of poverty".

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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