Advocacy groups are ready to go to battle with President Donald J. Trump’s administration over work requirements for Medicaid programs.
As DML News reported, certain adults will be required to work, get job training or perform community service in exchange for getting health coverage through Medicaid, due to landmark changes allowing states to implement requirements for single adults who want to receive the benefits.
According to The Hill, advocacy groups are preparing to sue the Trump administration, as they say the administration doesn’t have the power to give states waivers which would allow them to implement rules for Medicaid without action from Congress.
[T]he administration is defending the legality of the shift. When unveiling guidance Thursday on the work requirements, top Medicaid official Seema Verma said the administration has “broad authority” under current law to allow states to make changes through waivers.
Under federal law, state waivers must promote the “objectives” of the Medicaid program. Democrats argue the objective of the program is to provide health insurance to low-income people, which won’t be met by requirements that could result in people getting kicked off the program.
The Trump administration counters by pointing to research that it argues shows that having a job improves people’s health, which it says demonstrates that work requirements serve the goal of promoting health.
Opponents of the move say the administration has the causality backwards, and that having health insurance in the first place is what allows people to be healthy enough to work.
On Friday, the administration quickly gave Kentucky the green light to implement work requirements for some beneficiaries, the first time such an approval has been given.
Shortly after, the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) issued a press release stating, “litigation is expected because the approval violates federal law.”
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) said the requirements are necessary because “able-bodied people” are essentially getting free health coverage without contributing to society.
Asked if he anticipated legal challenges, Bevin said: “It’s conceivable. We live in America. There are lawsuits that fly around this town, this country. People certainly have that right.”
The Medicaid waiver granted to Kentucky allows the state to require that certain adults complete at least 80 hours per month of community engagement activities, such as work, education, job skills training or volunteering.
State officials estimated the waiver will lead to 95,000 fewer people on Medicaid, and about 350,000 Kentuckians would be subject to a community engagement requirement.