The Trump administration has been signaling for months that it plans to implement conservative reforms to core federal welfare programs, including by allowing states to have work requirements for Medicaid. So it was no surprise on Thursday when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidance for “state efforts to test incentives that make participation in work or other community engagement a requirement for continued Medicaid eligibility.”
In a series of tweets announcing the policy shift, CMS Administrator Seema Verma explained the agency’s rationale that requiring eligible able-bodied adults to have jobs to qualify for Medicaid will make them healthier and less reliant on welfare in the future. “Our fundamental goal is to make a lasting and positive difference in the health and wellness of Medicaid beneficiaries,” she tweeted. She also cited a 2014 meta-analysis that concluded that “employment is beneficial for health, particularly for depression and general mental health.”
There’s one gaping hole in that reasoning, however: If the federal government really wants to harness the benefits of employment to improve beneficiaries’ health and wealth, wouldn’t providing them with jobs be a simpler and more effective answer?
So far, it’s unclear how widely adopted work requirements will be and how exactly states will implement them under CMS’s new guidance. On Friday, Kentucky was the first state to have its 1115 waiver creating work requirements approved by CMS. On Thursday, Verma noted that nine other states had already submitted waivers asking the federal government to approve incentives or requirements for some Medicaid beneficiaries. In addition to allowing strict job mandates, CMS will also allow requirements for “other community-engagement activities,” including volunteering, job training, and caregiving. (These rules only apply to specific adults; CMS carves out people with disabilities, the elderly, children, and pregnant women.)
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Via:: The Atlantic