Trump Administration to Support Work Requirements for Medicaid Beneficiaries

The Trump Administration announced it will approve proposals from states to require work or community engagement for those who want to receive Medicaid. Community engagement can include paid employment, volunteer activities, school, job training, and treatment for drug or alcohol abuse. The Obama Administration had turned down such proposals, saying they did not promote health coverage and access to care.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that at least six states – Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Utah, and Wisconsin – have pending waiver requests that would require work as a condition of eligibility for some Medicaid beneficiaries. Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also announced plans to speed the review of waiver requests and to issue scorecards measuring and comparing states’ performance in improving Medicaid beneficiaries’ health.

In a speech to the National Association of Medicaid Directors, Ms. Verma said that Medicaid should help people “rise out of poverty and government dependence.” Many people on Medicaid, including those who became eligible because of the Affordable Care Act, are “individuals who are physically capable of being actively engaged in their communities,” she noted.

Matt D. Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, said “[state officials] have a lot of disagreement” with the contention that Medicaid should not be serving able-bodied adults of working age, noting that many Medicaid beneficiaries have low-wage jobs that do not provide health insurance for them or their family members.

Source: The New York Times, November 7, 2017.