Thursday, the Trump administration took a big step towards allowing states to tie work requirements to Medicaid benefits for the first time. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a new policy guidance letter to state Medicaid directors. The CMS outlined their criteria for “support(ing) state efforts to test incentives that make participation in work or other community engagement a requirement for continued Medicaid eligibility or coverage for certain adult Medicaid beneficiaries….” The goal is to improve the Medicaid enrollee’s health and well-being.
Conservatives have long wanted to tie work requirements to Medicaid. The Democrats have opposed work requirements in the past and still do. Rep. Frank Pallone, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said, according to Politico, “By allowing states to impose harmful work requirements, the Trump Administration is endangering the life support systems millions of vulnerable Americans rely on every day.” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement defending the new policy, “Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population. Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries.” This new policy raises a question. Should there be work requirements for certain adult Medicaid beneficiaries?
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Should there be work requirements for certain adult Medicaid beneficiaries? If a person is able to work, should they be required to work to receive Medicaid benefits? Or, is healthcare a human right and the government has no business making it harder to receive care?