Biden Rolls Back Medicaid Work Requirements
Health Care

Biden Rolls Back Medicaid Work Requirements

Karen Pulfer Focht

The Biden administration on Friday afternoon revoked permission for states to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries. The move comes two weeks after President Joe Biden ordered federal officials to review policies that make it more difficult for Americans to access federal health care programs.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it is rescinding a rule change made by the Trump administration in 2018 that allowed states to apply to develop programs that would force Medicaid recipients to work at least 20 hours per week, provide community service, or attend school or training in pursuit of a job.

A long-running struggle over benefits: Supporters of Medicaid work requirements say they are intended to conserve public funds and to help low-income beneficiaries get back into the workforce, with the goal of leaving the program as quickly as possible. Critics say the requirements violate both the letter and spirit of the law that established Medicaid, and serve to unfairly restrict access to publicly funded health care for the poor.

At least 12 states received permission from the Trump administration to impose work requirements, though efforts in Arkansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire were halted following legal challenges, and other states have waited to see how those legal issues play out before rolling out their own programs.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear a case next month related to the legality of the work requirements in Arkansas and New Hampshire, but the Biden administration’s reversal could render that case moot.