President Donald Trump’s administration will allow states to impose new work requirements for Medicaid recipients, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Thursday.
A new guideline by CMS instructs states on how to mandate that “able-bodied, working-age” Medicaid recipients work in order to receive benefits.
“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,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.
The new policy is a response to numerous state requested test programs through Medicaid projects where recipients participated in community engagement activities, including skills training, education, job search, volunteering and care giving.
The conditions would exclude individuals eligible for Medicaid due to disability, elderly beneficiaries, children and pregnant women.
“Our policy guidance was in response to states that asked us for the flexibility they need to improve their programs and to help people in achieving greater well-being and self-sufficiency,” Verma said.
CMS has already received project proposals from 10 states that include employment and community engagement initiatives — Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.
“States have the opportunity to help individuals improve and enhance the skills that employers truly value,” Verma said. “People who participate in activities that increase their education and training are more likely to find sustainable employment, have higher earnings, a better quality of life, and, studies have shown, improved health outcomes.”
CMS said the new policy seeks to help improve the economic situation of Medicaid recipients.
“This new guidance paves the way for states to demonstrate how their ideas will improve the health of Medicaid beneficiaries, as well as potentially improve their economic well-being,” CMS Deputy Administrator and Director for the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services Brian Neale said.
Republicans have long wanted to add work requirements for Medicaid recipients — which covers nearly 75 million low-income children, adults and elderly and disabled Americans.
Many Medicaid recipients are already employed. According to government statistics, 60 percent of non-disabled, working-age adults having a job, while nearly 80 percent live with families that have at least one member in the labor force.
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