Mar 18, 2019

HHS surges ahead on Medicaid work requirements

President Trump with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Legal challenges aren't slowing down the Trump administration's push to reframe Medicaid as something closer to a welfare program.

Driving the news: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Friday approved Ohio's proposal to add work requirements to its Medicaid program.

  • Just a day earlier, Justice Department lawyers were back before the same federal judge who ruled against work requirements last year, urging him to let the policy move forward now.

Where it stands: CMS has approved work requirements for 8 states, 3 of which have begun enforcing those rules. Several more applications are still pending.

By the numbers: Ohio expects roughly 18,000 people to lose their Medicaid eligibility this year because of the new rules.

  • In Arkansas, the first state to begin enforcing its work requirements, 18,000 people lost their coverage in the first 6 months.

Those coverage losses are central to the lawsuits challenging these new rules.

  • Federal law says the process through which CMS is approving these waivers should be used for ideas that serve Medicaid's goals as a source of health care coverage.
  • Critics argue that work requirements don't advance Medicaid as a health care program, as evidenced by the fact that they cause so many people to lose their coverage.
  • Judge James Boasberg seemed inclined to agree with that argument last year when he put Kentucky's work requirements on ice, and echoed similar concerns again last week as he weighed fresh challenges to both Kentucky and Arkansas' rules. 

Go deeper: Kentucky's Medicaid work requirements are back in court

Go deeper

The right and left internet loves Anthony Fauci

Data: Newswhip; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

If you feel like you're suddenly spending a surprising amount of your days thinking and talking about Anthony Fauci, you're not alone. He's become the third-most talked about person online, according to data from NewsWhip provided to Axios.

Why it matters: Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health office that deals with infectious diseases, has quickly become a household name, and one of the few household names with (mostly) bipartisan credibility.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Mark Meadows considers new White House press secretary

Photos: Alyssa Farah, Defense Department; Stephanie Grisham, Alex Wong/Getty Images; Kayleigh McEnany, Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has privately discussed bringing on Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah or Trump campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany as a new White House press secretary, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Meadows' start on Tuesday as Trump's new chief presents a chance to overhaul a press shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.