The Biden administration has now formally rescinded federal green lights for the implementation of Medicaid work requirements in Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and New Hampshire. Trump era Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) chief Seema Verma claimed that work requirements for recipients of Medicaid would assist beneficiaries with improving their financial situations — but that’s a tenuous theory, at best. Telling someone to get a job is far and away not the same thing as actually meaningfully helping them find employment. Besides, most beneficiaries already work.
As summarized by Stateline, an initiative associated with The Pew Charitable Trusts:
‘In its letters to Michigan and Wisconsin this week, CMS said work requirements were not consistent with the objectives of Medicaid to provide medical care to the nation’s vulnerable and low-income populations, particularly during a pandemic when job losses have been high. CMS noted that all but a small minority of Medicaid beneficiaries already work or are ill or disabled and therefore would be eligible for exemptions from the requirement.’
The Trump era Medicaid work requirements demanded employment, school attendance, or work training on the part of recipients. Under Trump’s administration, a full 19 states requested federal permission to institute these requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries, and a dozen of these requests were originally approved. Four of the approvals have been overturned in court challenges.
Biden’s administration has proposed $400 billion in new federal spending to support an expansion of Medicaid-backed home health care for seniors. This $400 billion is part of a wide-ranging infrastructure spending package that Democratic leaders hope to have completed work on within the next several months. The money would support home health care at least in part through an expansion of the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program, which “encourages states to develop Medicaid-covered alternatives to nursing homes and other institutional long-term care settings,” as Skilled Nursing News put it. The White House says that Biden “believes more people should have the opportunity to receive care at home, in a supportive community, or from a loved one.”