New Trump Policy Will Allow States to Mandate Work Requirements for Medicaid Recipients

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator
Seema Verma (Image via AP)

The Trump administration has made major headway toward allowing
states to impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients,
tying the two together for the first time in the program’s
52-year history.

A new policy guidance
the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says
that states will be free to create programs that require
Medicaid recipients to prove that they’re working, training for
a job or volunteering—proof similar to what’s asked of
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients.

CMS administrator Seema Verma painted the guidance as a helpful
step to promote employment among able-bodied Americans, despite
the fact that 60 percent of Medicaid’s non-elderly recipients
already have jobs, according to
a study
by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Of those who do
not work, more than a third are ill or disabled, 30 percent are
caring for young children and 15 percent are in school.

Asked about those whose coverage will likely be canceled as a
result of the policy, Verma insisted that decreased enrollment
would mean only that more people are finding coverage through
their employers.

“People moving off of Medicaid is a good outcome because we
hope that that means they don’t need the program anymore,” she
said during a press call.

Brian Neale, director of the federal Medicaid office, added to
the program’s insane pile of justifications by suggesting that
Medicaid recipients are actually harming themselves by staying
voluntarily locked away in their homes all day.

“Productive work and community engagement may improve health
outcomes,” he said. “For example, higher earnings are
positively correlated with longer lifespan.”

Advocates have pointed out the obvious idiocy of that logic.
Brad Woodhouse, campaign director of Protect Our Care, called
the new policy “the latest salvo of the Trump administration’s
war on health care.”

“A majority of adults covered by Medicaid who can work, do
work—often two or three jobs in fields like the service
industry that are less likely to offer insurance,” he said.

Ten states so far have expressed interest in testing the
work-for-Medicaid model, with proposals coming from Arizona,
Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire,
North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. Of those, Kentucky will
likely be the first to implement the new requirements.

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