Trump Administration Clears Way To Require Work For Some Medicaid Enrollees

Kaiser Health News, January 11, 2018

Adding a work requirement to Medicaid would mark one of the biggest changes to the program since its inception in 1966. It is likely to prompt a lawsuit from patient advocacy groups.

This article first appeared January 11, 2018 on Kaiser Health News.

By Phil Galewitz

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Trump administration early Thursday initiated a pivotal change in the Medicaid program, announcing that for the first time the federal government will allow states to test work requirements as a condition for coverage.

The announcement came in a 10-page memo with detailed directions about how states can reshape the federal-state health program for low-income people.

The document says who should be excluded from the new work requirements — including children and people being treated for opioid abuse — and offers suggestions as to what counts as “work.” Besides employment, it can include job training, volunteering or caring for a close relative.

“Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population,” Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), said in a press release. “Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries.”

Adding a work requirement to Medicaid would mark one of the biggest changes to the program since its inception in 1966. It is likely to prompt a lawsuit from patient advocacy groups, which claim the requirement is inconsistent with Medicaid’s objectives and would require an act of Congress.

Kaiser Health News

Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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