Trump Opens the Door to Medicaid Work Requirements
Health Care

Trump Opens the Door to Medicaid Work Requirements

Kevin Lamarque

The Trump administration will allow states to create work requirements for some Medicaid recipients for the first time, in what The Wall Street Journal calls “one of the biggest changes in the program’s 50-year history.”

The new guidelines, issued Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will allow states to create programs that require adults to prove they are working, in training, in treatment, volunteering, providing care or otherwise occupied in an acceptable manner in order to receive Medicaid benefits. Ten states are waiting to impose such requirements, and Kentucky may receive permission to do so as soon as Friday, according to The Washington Post.

Creating work requirements for “able-bodied adults” on Medicaid and other social programs has long been a goal for Republicans, and some Democrats as well. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) stated his party’s view plainly in 2016, as the House was considering changes to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program: “First we will expect work-capable adults to work or prepare for work in exchange for receiving government benefits.”

Critics of the plan point out that the majority of Medicaid recipients are already working, and that work requirements do little to reduce poverty. In a report released in December, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that “among the adult Medicaid enrollees who were not working, most report major impediments to their ability to work,” with high incidences of arthritis and asthma, among other ailments.

Kaiser Medicaid chart