CMS Issues Guidance on Medicaid Work Requirements

12 January, 2018, 03:23 | Author: Irene Delgado
  • FILE- Gov. Charlie Baker listens as Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders speaks during a news conference on Tuesday

Seema Verma, the agency's administrator, said the policy guidance came in response to requests from at least 10 states that have proposed requiring some Medicaid recipients to work or participate in activities that may include skills training, education, job search, volunteering, or caregiving.

But states traditionally can seek federal waivers to test new ideas for the program.

The major policy shift seeks to overhaul the long-standing social contract between state and federal governments and poor citizens who rely on their services.

"Among the adult Medicaid enrollees who were not working, most report major impediments to their ability to work including illness or disability or care-giving responsibilities", the study adds.

"Access to Medicaid makes it easier for people to look for work and obtain employment", Wikle said.

The work requirements "could have negative implications on many who are working or exempt from the requirements".

Kentucky will likely become the first state to receive a waiver, which could happen as soon as Friday, the Washington Post reported.

Under former president Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, 31 states expanded Medicaid coverage. "People moving off Medicaid is a good outcome; we hope it means they don't need the program any more".

On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, issued new guidelines for states that want some adults to work in exchange for the health insurance coverage.

If the price of expansion is backing a requirement most people already meet, "Oh, please don't throw me in that briar patch", Venable said.

Verma, who served as a Medicaid consultant for IN and Kentucky before joining the Trump administration, has long advocated for work requirements.

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"There are a lot of different ideas, and a lot of ways to go about this", Verma said.

Under the bill, Medicaid enrollees would be required to be employed or engaged in activities to promote employment, with exemptions similar to those set by CMS.

Once CMS gives one state permission, "we would be looking very, very closely to the legal options", said Leonardo Cuello, health policy director at the National Health Law Program. There was no indication that the open path toward work requirements makes Medicaid expansion any more palatable in a Republican-controlled General Assembly that has repeatedly rejected it, though.

'Medicaid is a health program that is supposed to serve people who don't otherwise have coverage'.

"Liberals find Medicaid work requirements repugnant because they believe that Medicaid beneficiaries want to work if they can, and that providing health coverage to people who cannot afford it is an obligation of any moral nation", Altman wrote.

Advocates for low-income people said work has never been a requirement for Medicaid, a program originally intended as a health program for the poor and disabled.

Children account for more than two-fifths of those enrolled, with seniors or persons with disabilities accounting for an additional one-fifth, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

"This is creating an impediment to people who might've lost their job and in fact need help getting work, not an extra requirement that keeps them from getting the needed medical care that keeps them healthy", Wagner says.

Some 60% of non-disabled, working-age adults have jobs, while almost 80% live in families with at least one member in the labor force, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.

The Obama administration would have never approved such waivers, she added.

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