Civil and Human Rights Coalition Condemns New Medicaid Work Requirements

The Trump administration's move allows states to deny medicaid if an able-bodied adult doesn't have a job

"Medicaid is a health program that is supposed to serve people who don't otherwise have coverage". The guidance also includes caregiving as one of the activities.

"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.

"Our policy guidance was in response to states that asked us for the flexibility they need to improve their programs and to help people in achieving greater well-being and self-sufficiency", CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement announcing the guidance.

This will be the first work requirement in Medicaid's 52-year history. Many of them have jobs that don't provide health insurance. The work requirements will likely be challenged in court.

People with substance abuse disorders such as opioid addiction. These modifications may include counting time spent in medical treatment toward an individual's community engagement requirements or exempting individuals participating in intensive inpatient or outpatient medical treatment, as well as supporting other state efforts.

"Whether it is a job, training, volunteering, substance abuse treatment, additional education or another opportunity, becoming an active and productive member of the community is an important part of healthy living", Walthall said. However, they will not be allowed to use federal Medicaid funding to finance these services.

Brian Neale, director of the federal Medicaid office, believes the new program will be greatly helpful for those involved.

Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said such a requirement has "not been something we've been pursuing" and indicated she likely won't seek to add it amid other efforts to reshape the state's Medicaid program, known as MassHealth.

The most recent federal figures show that Medicaid enrolls more than 68 million low-income Americans, including children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly.

Health insurance reforms initiated during Barack Obama's presidency raised the income cap for access to Medicaid, allowing millions of low-income earners to join the Medicaid rolls.

The state argued in the application submitted by Gov. Eric Holcomb that increasing participation in the state's Gateway to Work program will encourage Medicaid recipients to be self-sufficient and help them transition to getting their insurance through an employer.

Trump's new direction can be reversed by a future administration. Verma, sent a letter to governors hours after after she was confirmed in March urging them to apply for such waivers.

But it's not clear how many people would be affected by the new rules. It allowed states to provide coverage to anyone earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (about $16,600 for an individual).

The guidance release Thursday pointed to several studies that said unemployment is harmful to one's health and can prompt higher rates of hospital admission and death, as well as poorer general and mental health.

Now 10 states have submitted 1115 demonstrations with work requirements which Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. Now, she is in a position to approve them.

The administration contends the policy is to promote "community engagement". "Those days are over".

A study by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly 60% of working-age Medicaid recipients are already employed full time or part time.

"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. They could find it difficult to apply for exempt status and verify it, which may need to be done monthly in some states, while those who are working may have a hard time verifying their hours, especially if they have variable shifts.

"The new [state programs] will penalize individuals by having them lose health coverage, rather than incentivize them, as a voluntary program with adequately funded supportive services necessary to overcome barriers, would", she said.

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