Trump Administration Plans State Work Requirements for Medicaid

Medicaid protest
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President Donald Trump’s administration will reportedly unveil new guidelines to allow states to require work for Medicaid, according to the Hill.

In a speech in November, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma chided Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which gave low-income, able-bodied adults access to the entitlement program.

Verma argued, “Believing that community engagement requirements do not support or promote the objectives of Medicaid is a tragic example of the soft bigotry of low expectations consistently espoused by the prior administration. Those days are over.”

An August poll revealed that a majority of Americans support work requirements for Medicaid.

States could only implement work requirements for their state Medicaid programs if they were to apply for a waiver from the federal government. The CMS will likely release the guidelines for the state waivers in the coming weeks. Nine states, including Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Arkansas, hope to implement work requirements for their state Medicaid programs.

“The philosophy is: We want to move people up the economic ladder,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said.

A CMS spokesperson said in a statement, “States know better than the federal government how to address the unique needs of their people. That is why we support innovative efforts at the state level to enhance the lives of Medicaid recipients and help them achieve self-sufficiency.”

Hannah Katch, a senior policy analyst of the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said that work requirements for Medicaid would serve as a “fundamental change in the way that people are covered by Medicaid.”

Experts believe that Kentucky’s waiver will be the first application to be approved by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Georgetown Center for Children and Families suggested that Kentucky’s Medicaid program would have 100,000 fewer people benefitting from the program if they were to implement the program.

Verma charged, “For people living with disabilities, CMS has long believed that meaningful work is essential to their economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, well-being and improving their health. Why would we not believe that the same is true for working-age, able-bodied Medicaid enrollees?”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that social safety net programs should lift people up rather than trapping them in a cycle of poverty.

“We should treat public assistance more like a trampoline than a hammock,” Walker explained.

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