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President Trump and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

The Trump administration has signed off on the first-ever set of work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today approved work requirements proposed by Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, and is likely to approve additional restrictions in other states relatively soon.

The details: Kentucky will now require adults enrolled in Medicaid to perform 80 hours of “community engagement” per month, with some exceptions. That could include “employment, education, job skills training, and community service,” CMS said in its approval letter.

The requirements apply to all beneficiaries between 19 and 64, with exceptions for pregnant women, people who are considered “medically frail,” primary caregivers and people with acute medical conditions.

People who fail to certify they’ve met those requirements in a given month will have their benefits suspended until they meet the new rules or complete a state-approved education program.

Key quote: “We anticipate that the incentives provided under the demonstration for healthy behaviors and community engagement will promote Medicaid's objective of improving beneficiary health,” CMS told Kentucky.

  • That statement is important because work requirements will almost certainly be challenged in court, on the grounds that they don't align with Medicaid's stated goal of providing health care to low-income people.

Go deeper: New Medicaid rules will face lawsuits almost immediately

Go deeper

9 mins ago - World

Iran's nuclear dilemma: Ramp up now or wait for Biden

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The world is waiting to see whether Iran will strike back at Israel or the U.S. over the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran's military nuclear program.

Why it matters: Senior Iranian officials have stressed that Iran will take revenge against the perpetrators, but also respond by continuing Fakhrizadeh’s legacy — the nuclear program. The key question is whether Iran will accelerate that work now, or wait to see what President-elect Biden puts on the table.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

U.K. first nation to clear Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for mass rollout

A health care worker during the phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial by Pfizer and BioNTech in Ankara, Turkey, in October. Photo: Dogukan Keskinkilic/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's government announced Wednesday it's approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, which "will be made available across the U.K. from next week."

Why it matters: The U.K. has beaten the U.S. to become the first Western country to give emergency approval for a vaccine that's found to be 95% effective with no serious side effects against a virus that's killed nearly 1.5 million people globally.

3 hours ago - World

NYT: Biden won't immediately remove U.S. tariffs on China

President-elect Joe Biden during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's 25% tariffs imposed on China under the phase one trade deal will remain in place at the start of the new administration, President-elect Biden said in an interview with the New York Times published early Wednesday.

Details: "I'm not going to make any immediate moves, and the same applies to the tariffs," Biden said. He plans to conduct a full review of the current U.S. policy on China and speak with key allies in Asia and Europe to "develop a coherent strategy," he said.

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