Medicaid work requirements clear White House hurdle

12 January, 2018, 12:27 | Author: Brenda Erickson
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders speaks during a news conference announcing more reforms to combat the opioid crisis at the State House Tuesday

Ten states - Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Utah and Wisconsin, are now seeking work requirements for Medicaid recipients. "Federal Medicaid laws do not permit work requirements". Almost eight in 10 adult beneficiaries who aren't disabled live in working families; most are working themselves.

"I think we're building a country of some people who have gotten to the point they feel very comfortable living off of the government", Moul said.

How the new policy affects providers is so far unknown.

Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that provides low-priced health care, is the largest federal health program with over 70 million participants and has an annual federal budget of over $400 billion. Kaiser also said a work requirement is popular.

"This is going to go to court the minute the first approval comes out", predicted Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, whose members reflect a spectrum of views about requiring work.

"As an example in the TANF program, the cash assistance program, there is authorization to include work limits and work requirements, and there is no such requirement in the Medicaid law", said Berg. She quoted from a speech President Lyndon Johnson gave a half-century ago, when he said that Medicaid's aim " is not only to relieve the symptoms of poverty but cure it".

"Governor Wolf's expansion of Medicaid has allowed more people to access primary care, reduced emergency room costs and inpatient hospitalizations, and resulted in better outcomes as people seek the preventive treatment they need rather than waiting until a health concern becomes an emergency". Many Medicaid enrollees may have physical or mental health problems - such as arthritis or asthma - that don't meet the criteria for federal disability programs, but still interfere with their ability to work, Kaiser said.

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"California will not impose work requirements on Medi-Cal beneficiaries", said Jennifer Kent, director of the Department of Health Care Services, which administers Med-Cal.

In addition, people who are disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act but have Medicaid benefits for another reason could be exempted, or the state would be required to make "reasonable modifications" such as a reduced hourly requirement to ensure that the requirements don't disproportionately hurt people with disabilities.

The new policy requires states to assist beneficiaries in meeting work and community requirements in child care assistance, transportation and other support, but said states will not have the authority to use the Medicaid funding to finance these services.

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. "Health care should be a right, not a privilege". "We want to give states as much flexibility as possible because that's where we'll be able to evaluate what actually works best".

CMS said the work and community engagement policy is for working-age, non-pregnant Medicaid beneficiaries who are not eligible for Medicaid on the basis of a disability.

The Obama administration opposed the demands by the states.

Other groups criticizing the Trump administration's plans included Public Citizen, Families USA and the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society.

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