Trump administration decides states can require people to work for Medicaid

12 January, 2018, 12:27 | Author: Charlene Valdez
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New Hampshire is one of 10 states seeking a waiver from the federal government to add a work requirement for Medicaid recipients. "Federal Medicaid laws do not permit work requirements". Most who are not report reasons such as illness, caring for a family member or attending college. A study in December in JAMA Internal Medicine found that about half of the Medicaid recipients in MI were already working. The main impact of the rules will be to subject poor people to stacks of paperwork that will drive some to drop coverage, the critics say.

The new plan sets the stage for a potentially long and contentious legal battle over the shape and objective of a health program that more than 70 million Americans now depend on.

A University of MI team recently published data in JAMA Internal Medicine from detailed survey of more than 4,000 MI residents enrolled in the state's expanded Medicaid program.

MaryBeth Musumeci, an associate director for the Program on Medicaid and the Uninsured at the Washington-based Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy think tank, said the red tape will be a barrier to health care. Aligning requirements across these programs may streamline eligibility and reduce the burden on both states and beneficiaries and help beneficiaries succeed in meeting their work and community engagement responsibilities.

"For the future of our country, we need all Americans to be active participants in their communities", she said in November.

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"Governor Wolf's expansion of Medicaid has allowed more people to access primary care, reduced emergency room costs and inpatient hospitalizations, and resulted in better outcomes as people seek the preventive treatment they need rather than waiting until a health concern becomes an emergency".

But opponents to tying Medicaid to work argue that good health leads to the ability to hold down a job. "A study examining Michigan's Medicaid expansion found that almost seven in 10 enrollees who were working said they performed better at work once they got Medicaid coverage".

"This new attack on Medicaid has nothing to do with program integrity, and everything to do with the recently revealed step-by-step Trump administration plot to wage war on our health care". States should take these issues - as well as recipients' employability - into consideration and allow for modifications or exemptions, the agency said.

"Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population", Seema Verma, the head of CMS, said in a statement.

"This is about helping people rise out of poverty", Verma said in press conference, according to NPR.

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"The governor believes that Medicaid is an important safety net for many Iowans, and her hope is that those on the program who are able-bodied are able to find a career and re-enter the workforce".

Cuello said the argument that work promotes health is "totally contorted".

On January 11, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would allow states to apply for permission to require Medicaid beneficiaries to work or pursue other "community engagement" activities such as volunteering, education and caregiving.

The administration, by encouraging states to impose changes that will eliminate coverage for large numbers of low-income residents, threatens to reverse these gains.

Other groups criticizing the Trump administration's plans included Public Citizen, Families USA and the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society.

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