HISTORIC: Trump Makes Huge Change To How Medicaid Works

In a historic move, the Trump Administration will permit states to make welfare recipients meet certain work requirements to get their benefits.

In a guidance released Thursday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services outlined exactly what states must do to mandate that certain Medicaid enrollees find work to qualify for benefits.

It is a significant change from administrations past in how the government-run health insurance program functions and has been a long-time goal of the GOP. States could require able-bodied, working-aged adults to work, volunteer go to school, or enter a job training program if they are going to continue receiving welfare. Caregiving – whether it is for an older adult or a child – is also listed as one of the activities.

“Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population. Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries, and today’s announcement is a step in that direction,” said Seema Verma, the agency’s administrator.

Of course, the left is insisting this is just a way to “thin the rolls” and kick people off of welfare. They claim that many Americans will be unable to meet the minimum mandate and be left without government-run insurance.

“Don’t be fooled by all the bells and whistles in #Medicaid work guidance,” writes health policy expert Judy Solomon. “Note instead no $ for work supports, need a doctor’s note to verify illness. History from other programs shows people who are working and those who should be exempt lose benefits.”

The guidance gives states great latitude in crafting their programs and pointed out that many recipients may need “additional considerations.”

Poor health, substance abuse, or chronic high unemployment in the area might be some areas of consideration, CNN reports. States should take these issues — as well as recipients’ employability — into consideration and allow for modifications or exemptions, the agency said. Pregnant women will also be exempt.

The agency specifically calls out the opioid epidemic, saying that time spent in treatment can count towards the mandate and those in intensive recovery programs can be excused. Many governors, including Republican ones, have defended the Medicaid program as being critical to addressing the substance abuse crisis.

States will be required to describe strategies to assist recipients in meeting the requirements and to link them to job training and support resources, including child care and transportation. However, they will not be allowed to use federal Medicaid funding to finance these services.

Republicans have been trying for a long time to add work requirements to Medicaid, which covers nearly 75 million people. More than 11 million Americans were added to the rolls under the expansion of Medicaid under Barack Obama.

Ten states — Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin — have submitted waivers that include work or community engagement requirements, according to the agency. South Dakota’s governor said in his State of the State address Tuesday that he would also look to require certain recipients to work.