Move afoot? States requiring folks work for Medicaid

Trump approves Arkansas Medicaid work requirements

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the requirement for Arkansas' program, which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private insurance for low-income residents, had been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Arkansas on Monday became the third state to get the Trump administration's permission to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries.

Verma and Hutchinson said they'll continue to discuss another proposal by Arkansas that wasn't among the changes approved on March 5 to move 60,000 people off the Medicaid expansion by lowering the eligibility cap from 138 percent of the federal poverty level to 100 percent. At least eight other states have filed similar waivers and another nine are exploring the issue, said Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It's to give them training that they need.

Arkansas follows IN and Kentucky this year IN winning CMS' approval for the work requirement.

With the blessing of the Trump administration, Arkansas is taking Medicaid work requirements to a new level. Exemptions apply for people who are deemed "medically frail", those who are pregnant, those who are caring for children or disabled adults, those in substance abuse treatment, those who are receiving Transitional Employment Assistance, and those who are already exempt from the SNAP work requirement.

A bill reauthorizing Arkansas' Medicaid expansion for another year has advanced on the same day the state won federal approval for its plan to impose a work requirement on thousands of people in the program. This year, only enrollees age 30 to 49 will be subject to the work mandate, which will be broadened to include 19- to 29-year-olds in 2019.

Verma said the work requirement "is about helping people rise out of poverty to achieve the American dream". "Shifting from a voluntary "referral" to a mandatory requirement that individuals work in order to receive their health insurance is expected to increase the number of enrollees who take advantage of state programs to assist in developing skills and obtaining jobs", Hutchinson's office said in a press release.

The so-called "partial expansion" was a key test of the limits of the Trump administration's power on how far states could go to limit Medicaid enrollment.

"It certainly makes it more palatable", said Republican Sen.

While Arkansas got its work requirement waiver, the state doesn't have the OK to harden the income eligibility yet.

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