The Trump administration is paving a pathway to let states require that able-bodied recipients get be working in order to continue receiving their Medicaid benefits.

“Today @CMSGov is releasing guidance to support state efforts to improve #Medicaid enrollee #health outcomes by incentivizing community engagement among able-bodied beneficiaries,” a Trump official tweeted Thursday, according to NPR News.

According to the administrator, the goal of the new guidelines is to “improve Medicaid enrollee health outcomes by incentivizing community engagement,” also going on to say that holding down a job significantly helps health.

The Department of Health Human Services that oversees the Medicare and Medicaid programs has signed off on new regulations that require anyone who is not elderly, disabled, or pregnant to get a job in exchange for health insurance coverage.

“This is about helping people rise out of poverty,” Seema Verma said.

There still are a few questions in regards to the change, including which states will participate and when the rules will go into effect. Ten states have so far applied for the addition of a work requirement to their health insurance programs, but it is unclear when the regulations will take effect.

“There are a lot of different ideas, and a lot of ways to go about this,” said Verma, who also said the department wants to work with states individually based on their specific recipient pools. “We want to give states as much flexibility as possible because that’s where we’ll be able to evaluate what actually works best,” she continued.

It is also unclear how many will truly be affected by the change. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine magazine suggests that half of Medicaid recipients in Michigan already have jobs.

Some are disappointed in the move, saying it will put extra stress on those already struggling.

“Access to Medicaid makes it easier for people to look for work and obtain employment,” said Suzanne Wikle of the Center for Law and Social Policy, according to NPR. “A so-called work requirement does not support work but instead puts a critical support for work at risk,” she continued.

Verma said there are still a number of details to iron out, including how to include those who are a part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and those who are being treated for drug or substance abuse.


  • Report from NPR

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