States can force 'able-bodied' to work for Medicaid, rules Trump administration

Attendees attempt to enter Central Hall through exit doors at CES in Las Vegas on Wednesday Jan. 10th 2018

Attendees attempt to enter Central Hall through exit doors at CES in Las Vegas on Wednesday Jan. 10th 2018

The Trump administration took a significant step Thursday toward letting states set up work requirements for people on Medicaid, the program that covers health care for millions of Americans.

All the policy will do, Berg said, is increase bureaucracy and paperwork, "supposedly from the small government people", because it will force working people to leave work, or those on a job search to stop searching and have to go to a government office to fill out a form to show they are working or searching for a job. 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.

At least 10 states, led by Republicans, were awaiting federal permission to enforce the new work rules, according to the Washington Post.

It's unclear which states will be the first to pursue a first-of-its-kind Medicaid work requirement waiver.

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, speaks during a news conference in Newark, N.J. The Trump administration says it's offering a path for states that want to seek work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

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More than 70 million Americans now receive Medicaid benefits, equalling roughly 1 out of 5 people in the country - a number that was considerably increased due to President Barack Obama's health care reform policies.

The Obama administration had declined to offer waivers to states that requested a work requirement.

ME had filed a request with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last spring to receive a waiver that would allow the state to set requirements for work, volunteering or other approved activities as a condition of receiving Medicaid.

Ten states have asked the agency for flexibility in the Medicaid program, according to Verma.

"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".

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Noam N. Levey is a Los Angeles Times writer. To qualify for a waiver, a state must provide a convincing justification that its experiment would "further the objectives" of Medicaid.

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.

Verma does not specifically state that those who don't work will be cut off from Medicaid coverage, but Twitter Thursday lit up with accusations of cutting off "frail" enrollees while others applauded the initiative to get people "on the dole" back to work. Almost eight in 10 adult beneficiaries who aren't disabled live in working families; most are working themselves.

Verma, and proponents of the requirements view it differently. It has improved low-income people's financial health, helped states fight the opioid epidemic, and improved access to care. "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". South Dakota's governor said in his State of the State address Tuesday that he would also look to require certain recipients to work.

The new regulations' supporters argue that it's a common sense idea.

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