Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Experts Question New Green Light On Medicaid Work Requirement

Experts Question New Green Light On Medicaid Work Requirement

That request is now pending with the federal centers. Anyway, it's one of those "damn straight" type ideas that politicians often say they believe, but never actually do because it's not that simple, or because there's too much resistance, or. well, or because they never really meant to do it in the first place. How many of those jobs actually provide health care?

In sum, the Trump administration is targeting a poor population that's not exactly slacking off, and it's trying to drive more of them to work using a strategy that hasn't exactly proven effective. But he also estimated as many as 95,000 people could lose their Medicaid benefits, either because they did not comply with the new rules or they lose their eligibility because they make too much money.

"Whenever possible, we should always endeavor to help South Carolinians in need find their path to gainful employment and away from the temporary assistance of government", tweeted South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.

"Kentucky is leading the nation in this reform in ways that are now being replicated all over the nation", said Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, in announcing the plan's approval. Former foster care youth, pregnant women, and full-time students are exempt.

Thousands of Mississippi Medicaid recipients may be facing new job requirements if a proposal is approved by the feds.

"CMS recognizes that a broad range of social, economic, and behavioral factors can have a major impact on an individual's health and wellness, and a growing body of evidence suggests that targeting certain health determinants, including productive work and community engagement, may improve health outcomes", read the letter from Brian Neale, CMS' Medicaid director.

Why can't the USA provide both a cost-effective safety net for health care and opportunities for people to find meaningful work? Studies show most Medicaid-eligible families already have at least one person holding down a job, it just doesn't pay well enough to afford private health insurance, and thanks to recent tinkering with the Affordable Care Act, it's not getting any more affordable anytime soon.

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In Kentucky, for instance, the waiver will also freeze people's coverage if they fail to report any changes in their employment or income. Those 80 hours can be from a job, volunteer work or job training.

Calling the Trump administration's waivers "unprecedented", two senior congressional Democrats who work on Medicaid issues asked the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to review the government's decision-making process.

The is the first of what are expected to be similar approvals for nine other states and a likely first step in pushing Medicaid policy into the courts.

Requiring work for benefits is a GOP policy staple, and the party points to welfare and food stamps as a model.

On the surface, work requirements for Medicaid might seem cruel or punitive.

The Obama administration didn't reject every request for change. None of these populations would be affected by the work requirement. There are other exemptions for groups of people, as well. Utah enacted a slim Medicaid expansion for chronically homeless people with substance abuse issues, and ME voters passed Medicaid expansion last fall - although its implementation is up in the air. Of those who aren't working, many have care-giving responsibilities that either they would have to abandon or states would have to accept as the equivalent of work outside the home, after a lot of complex and expensive administrative hassle.

But Trump administration officials said Thursday that work requirements are consistent with the goals of Medicaid because work and work-related activities could improve the health of Medicaid beneficiaries.

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