If you want Medicaid, you may have to work for it


By Frederick H. Lowe

States soon will be able to compel able-bodied, working-age adults to take jobs to receive Medicaid benefits under guidelines issued Thursday by Trump administration.

“The policy responds to numerous state requests to test programs through Medicaid demonstration projects under which work or participation in other community engagement activities, including skills training, education, job search, volunteering or caregiving would be a condition for Medicaid eligibility for able-bodied, working-age adults,” said the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

CMS said it has project proposals from 10 states that include employment and community engagement initiatives. The policy would exclude individuals eligible for Medicaid due to age, disability or pregnancy.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state health program for low-income individuals. In 2017, 73 million people were enrolled in Medicaid, reported Kaiser Family Foundation. In 2016, 18 percent or 10.7 million of the enrollees were African American compared with 25 million whites and 17.7 million Hispanics.

The National Employment Law Project condemned the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ decision, which reverses policy established by the Obama administration.

“Not only are such requirements of questionable legality, but study after study shows that access to health care makes it easier for people to look for and obtain employment,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project, which is based in New York.


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