Nov 7, 2017

CMS will support Medicaid work requirements, Verma says

Verma wants to add new requirements for "working age, able-bodied adults.” Photo: Evan Vucci / AP

Seema Verma, the federal Medicare and Medicaid administrator, made clear in a speech this morning that the Trump administration intends to let states impose new requirements, including work requirements, on some Medicaid recipients. Using Medicaid "as a vehicle to serve working age, able-bodied adults does not make sense," Verma said.

Why it matters: Medicaid is the largest insurance program in the country. Verma has made clear she intends to roll back the program's ambitions — and she's begun laying out exactly how she aims to get there.

The details: Verma said her office "will approve proposals that promote community engagement activities" — which she defined as working, receiving job training, going to school or volunteering — as a requirement for able-bodied adults to receive Medicaid benefits.

  • By law, when the federal Medicaid office evaluates a state's proposed Medicaid waiver, it's required to consider whether those changes would "assist in promoting the objectives" of the Medicaid program.
  • The Obama administration drew a hard line against work requirements, saying they would not further Medicaid's objective of providing health insurance for poor people.
  • "Believing that community engagement requirements do not support or promote the objectives of Medicaid is a tragic example of the soft bigotry of low expectations consistently espoused by the prior administration. Those days are over," Verma said today.
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