Baker: Massachusetts won't impose Medicaid work requirement

Gov. Charlie Baker speaks with reporters at the State House in Boston in 2015

MoreCloseclosemoreGov. Charlie Baker speaks with reporters at the State House in Boston in 2015

Announcement of the new guidance delivers on the commitment made by Administrator Verma in her address to state Medicaid directors last November, to "turn the page" in the Medicaid program and give states more freedom to design innovative programs that achieve positive results for the people they serve and to remove bureaucratic barriers that block states from achieving this goal.

Ten states - Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Utah and Wisconsin, are now seeking work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

States wouldn't be able to request work requirements for disabled people and children under the new guidance; however, a number of nonpartisan health care think tanks point out that many Americans who rely on Medicaid can not work because they are the primary care providers for much sicker family members or live with other socioeconomic realities that make finding work more hard.

States must also fully comply with federal disability and civil rights laws and ensure that all individuals with disabilities have the necessary protections to ensure that they are not inappropriately denied coverage. The requests prompted CMS to issue today's guidance about how to obtain federal approval for waivers imposing work requirements on "able-bodied" adults. The link between government help and work later was extended to anti-hunger efforts through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps are now called.

"I give CMS some credit for listening to 10 states", she said.

States, for instance, could require non-disabled, working age recipients to work, volunteer, go to school or enter a job training program.

"Republicans want to ignore the truth in order to push their partisan health care agenda, but the majority of adults covered by Medicaid who can work, do work - often two or three jobs in fields like the service industry that are less likely to offer insurance", Woodhouse said in a statement.

The conditions would exclude individuals eligible for Medicaid due to disability, elderly beneficiaries, children and pregnant women.

Cuello said the argument that work promotes health is "totally contorted". Almost eight in 10 recipients live in families with at least one member in employment, according to the study.

CMS will also require states to make reasonable modifications for individuals with opioid addiction and other substance use disorders. She has long pushed for new requirements for Medicaid patients. "That's why the governor is introducing the Future Ready Iowa Act, which will provide scholarship and grant dollars for Iowans who want to receive training in high demand fields", Smith said. For low-wage workers, such as waitresses with fluctuating wages, "it boggles my mind", Stewart said.

The administration, by encouraging states to impose changes that will eliminate coverage for large numbers of low-income residents, threatens to reverse these gains. She was an architect of Kentucky's waiver application once a Democratic governor who had eagerly embraced the ACA was succeeded by Matt Bevin, a Republican who campaigned on a pledge to reverse the program expansion there.

Other groups criticizing the Trump administration's plans included Public Citizen, Families USA and the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society.

The new regulations' supporters argue that it's a common sense idea.

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