President Donald Trump’s administration is encouraging states to have work requirements for “able-bodied” Medicaid recipients for the first time in the 52 years the healthcare program has existed.
States will be allowed to create programs requiring Medicaid users to prove they are employed, training for a job, volunteering, or receiving treatment for substance abuse, according to new policy guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The program will be similar to requirements imposed on recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Jezebel reported Thursday that 60 percent of Medicaid’s non-elderly recipients already have jobs, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Of the recipients who don’t work, more than one-third are ill or disabled, 30 percent take care of small children, and 15 percent are in school.
Faced with questions about who will lose coverage under the work enforcement policy, Medicare and Medicaid administrator Seema Verma reportedly said decreased enrollment will come from people finding coverage through their employers.
“People moving off of Medicaid is a good outcome because we hope that that means they don’t need the program anymore,” Verma said during a press call.
Critics of the policy have questioned whether it’s legal to enforce work requirements in order to receive benefits under the government program and argued that it will impose barriers—not incentivize—individuals who use the program.
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Ten states—Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin—said they are interested in trying out enforcing work for Medicaid. Kentucky is expected to be the first to implement the policy.