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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.

Go deeper

Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios Photo: Herika Martinez /Getty Images 

Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.

Cities' pandemic struggle to balance homelessness and public safety

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Addressing homelessness has taken on new urgency in cities across the country over the past year, as officials grapple with a growing unhoused population and the need to preserve public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: It’s led to tension when cities move in to clear encampments — often for health and safety reasons — causing some to rethink the role of law enforcement when interacting with people experiencing homelessness.

Biden to sign voting rights order to mark "Bloody Sunday" anniversary

President Biden will sign an executive order today, on the 56th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," meant to promote voting rights, according to an administration official.

Why it matters: The executive order comes as Democrats face an uphill battle to pass a sweeping election bill meant, in part, to combat a growing number of proposals introduced by Republicans at the state level that would restrict voter access.