Seema Verma, the head of the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), recently signaled the current administration’s intention to impose requirements on some adults receiving Medicaid benefits. The move would be a major department from the previous administration’s policies and is already being decried by Democrat leaders across the country at the state and federal level.
Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Utah and Wisconsin have already submitted requests to CMS Medicaid enrollees to either work or provide community service. While those requirements would vary from state to state, Arizona for example would require those receiving benefits to either be working, seeking work or attending school or job training for at least 20 hours a week.
New Hampshire’s requirements would go even further, asking program recipients to spend more time working, engaging in job training or acquiring education for more hours the longer they are in Medicaid. First year enrollees would need to put in 20 hours, second year enrollees would need to put in 25-hours, and third year enrollees would need to put in as many as 30-hours per week.
Officials with CMS said decisions on work requirements from the states could come by the end of the year, potentially setting up huge court battles as enrollees and advocacy groups work to push back against the administration’s new policies. While eight states have already expressed their support of the opportunity to impose new work requirements, many state CMS administrators, including New York’s, have expressed disgust at the idea.
Almost 60 percent of able bodied adults under 65-years old already work, are looking for employment, or go to school, thus already satisfying many of the sought after requirements by states looking to reform Medicaid. Just what type of impact the work requirements would have on enrollment in states seeking the authorization remains to be seen but states like Kentucky are estimated to need up to 1 million more workers by 2025.
If you have been declared disabled or are over 65-years old, the proposed work requirements are unlikely to affect your current benefits. New York residents in particular should be less concerned as the state administrator has already come out against the measure and is very unlikely to ask for permission to impose such requirements on beneficiaries in the state.
Medicaid currently covers an estimated 74 million people and is a partnership between the federal government and the states. While the federal government provides much of the $576 billion in Medicaid funding, states have great leeway in how the money is spent and what types of requirements it can impose on enrollees.