Trump Administration Announces New Work Requirements for Medicaid, Calls Them “Community Engagement”

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The Trump administration announced this morning that it will allow states to require that able-bodied Medicaid enrollees work, volunteer or enroll in classes to receive benefits.  The administration characterized it as a states issue rather than a directive from the federal government, though.  “This is in response to proposals we are receiving from states.  It is entirely optional for states,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid administrator, Seema Verma said.  “This is no way a requirement.”

The guidelines allow states to call on Medicaid enrollees to work, volunteer or enroll in classes or work training for a set number of hours each week.  These were often decried as “work requirements” under previous administrations.  They are being referred to by the Trump administration as “community engagement.”

There are a number of exceptions to the requirements.  Medicaid recipients would not need to work or volunteer if they are elderly, disabled, children or pregnant.  States could also designate certain populations as “medically frail,” such as people undergoing treatment for drug addiction.

States would have to apply for a waiver from CMS before instituting any programs. Ten states have already asked to implement the new requirements.  They are: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.  Verma said now that the initiative has been announced, determinations on states’ applications will be forthcoming.

States will have to track the results if implementing any new requirements, such as recording the number of people who lose coverage as a result of them.  They will also be required to make that information public.

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