Trump officials say states can impose Medicaid work requirements


Trump officials say states can impose Medicaid work requirements

Kate Randall

12 January 2018

The Trump administration on Thursday announced it would allow states to impose work requirements for Medicaid, the social insurance program for the poor, disabled and elderly jointly administered by the federal government and the states. Ten states have requested waivers to require work in exchange for benefits, with some exceptions.

The reactionary move will for the first time impose work requirements for a government program that for more than 50 years has provided health insurance on the basis of need. Medicaid currently covers one in five Americans, or about 74 million low-income and disabled people, including many with complex and costly health care needs.

The administration’s not-so-transparent aim of imposing work requirements is to shrink and gut the program. Advocates for the poor warn that the change will result in forcing current recipients off the Medicaid rolls, if they can’t meet the work requirements or because they can’t jump through the bureaucratic hoops to meet them. The ultimate goal is to transform funding to the states into block grants and privatize the program.

Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) claim that the work requirements will help people rise out of poverty. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, CMS administrator Seema Verma said, “This policy is about helping people achieve the American dream.”

Acknowledging that the move would result in dumping recipients from the program, Verma said, “People moving off Medicaid is a good outcome because we hope that means they don’t need the program anymore.” However, booting people from Medicaid—because they can’t find work, can’t document it, or can’t…

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