South Carolina is the next battleground for Medicaid work requirements
President Trump and CMS Administrator Seema Verma. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
The Trump administration is losing the legal battle over Medicaid work requirements — one of its most impactful and controversial health care policies — but it is leaning into that fight even more aggressively.
Driving the news: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services formally signed off yesterday on South Carolina's work requirements. Medicaid recipients in the state will have to perform 80 hours per month of work or community service, unless they receive an exemption.
Why it matters: Other states have primarily sought work requirements as a condition of their Medicaid expansions, but South Carolina will impose its new rules without expanding.
Where it stands: A federal judge has already ruled against work requirements in Arkansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire, arguing that they’re inconsistent with Medicaid's statutory goals.
- Judge James Boasberg has leaned heavily on the fact that work requirements would cause thousands of people to lose their Medicaid coverage.
- That will also happen in South Carolina, and those coverage losses will be a factor in the inevitable lawsuits over these rules.
Yes, but: Those rulings are working their way through the appeals process, and rather than change course or slow down in the face of legal setbacks, the administration is getting work requirements on the books wherever it can and hoping for an eventual win in the courts.
Go deeper: Why Trump's Medicaid work requirements lost