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Work Requirements Archives — Protect Our Care

Ohio Is The Next Stop On President Trump’s Medicaid Madness Tour

Washington, DC — Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved Ohio’s request to implement work requirements on its Medicaid program. In their waiver request, Ohio officials predicted that roughly 18,000 people will lose their Medicaid eligibility. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued a statement in response:

“Ohio is the next stop on the Trump administration’s Medicaid sabotage tour. The work requirements approved by the administration will have disastrous effects on Ohioans. By Ohio’s own admission, nearly half of the people with coverage through Medicaid who will be subjected to work requirements will lose their health care; this is similar to the consequences we’ve seen in Arkansas where 18,000 people have already had their coverage stripped away from them. It’s high time for the administration to stop playing accomplice to states who are intent on denying people health care and start working on policies that will lower costs and improve care for all Americans.

Back At It Again: Trump Administration Hostile to Medicaid Ignored Rules That Protect Patients


Washington DC — Today, the Los Angeles Times reports that the Trump administration is scrambling to overhaul Medicaid by requiring burdensome work requirements, but are failing to enforce federal rules directing states to analyze the devastating impact such requirements will have on millions of Americans who rely on this life-saving program. Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement in response:   

“The actions by this administration are egregious, but unfortunately par for the course considering President Trump has put people in charge of Medicaid who are simply out to destroy it. Failing to enforce rules requiring states to access the impact of Medicaid work requirements shows that the Trump administration doesn’t care who their policies hurt. This is part and parcel to Trump-led Republican sabotage agenda: they oppose Medicaid expansion — which would provide health care coverage to millions more Americans, support so-call ‘block grants” — a euphemism for slashing coverage, and are pushing ‘work requirements’ – which are little more than gotcha paperwork meant to kick eligible people off the rolls. Medicaid is the nation’s largest health insurance program and is more popular today than ever before. These senseless work requirements are already jeopardizing health care for thousands of low-income families — nearly all of whom are already working — and the Trump administration is breaking every rule in the book in their rush to implement it as just another deliberate attack on American health care.”

Background:

IN STATES WHERE SIMILAR RULES HAVE TAKEN EFFECT, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAVE LOST CARE

  • Results from Arkansas confirm that Medicaid work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles, threatening access to health coverage for thousands across the state. “A review of monthly data related to the new requirements released by the Arkansas Department of Human Services shows that from September through December 2018, over 18,000 people were disenrolled for failure to comply with the new requirements for three months.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 1/17/19]
  • This summer, a federal district court blocked Kentucky from imposing similar rules for the negative effects it would have on Kentuckians. Said the court in its ruling, “[Secretary Azar] never adequately considered whether Kentucky HEALTH would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid. This signal omission renders his determination arbitrary and capricious. The Court, consequently, will vacate the approval of Kentucky’s project and remand the matter to HHS for further review.”
  • In Indiana, 25,000 people with health insurance through Medicaid were dropped from coverage because they were unable to pay their premiums. The Washington Post reported, “About 25,000 adults were disenrolled from the program between its start in 2015 and October 2017 for failure to pay their premiums, according to state reports. Yet, state officials estimate that based on surveys of recipients, about half of those who were disenrolled found another source of coverage, most often through a job…In addition to those who were disenrolled, another 46,000 adults who signed up for Medicaid during 2016 and 2017 were not accepted because they did not pay their initial premium, the state reported.”

WORK REQUIREMENTS ADD ADMINISTRATIVE HURDLES, MAKING IT HARDER FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR CARE TO GET IT

  • Requiring People On Medicaid To Prove They Are Working Adds An Administrative Burden That Is Hardest On Low-Income Americans. “[Administrative hurdles] may be especially daunting for the poor, who tend to have less stable work schedules and less access to resources that can simplify compliance: reliable transportation, a bank account, internet access.  There is also a lot of research about the Medicaid program, specifically, that shows that sign-ups fall when states make their program more complicated.” [New York Times, 1/18/18]
  • Documentation Requirements Increase The Chances That People Will Lose Care, Simply Because They Have Trouble Navigating The Process. “There is a real risk of eligible people losing coverage due to their inability to navigate these processes, miscommunication, or other breakdowns in the administrative process. People with disabilities may have challenges navigating the system to obtain an exemption for which they qualify and end up losing coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 1/16/18]

THE VAST MAJORITY OF  PEOPLE WITH MEDICAID COVERAGE WHO WHO CAN WORK ARE WORKING

  • 60 percent of nondisabled people with health coverage through Medicaid have a job and are working, including 42 percent working full-time.
  • 51 percent of working adult Medicaid enrollees have full-time jobs year-round, but their salaries are still low enough to qualify for Medicaid coverage, or have Medicaid because their employers do not offer insurance.  
  • Nearly 80 percent of nondisabled people with Medicaid coverage live in a family where at least one person is working, including 64 percent working full-time. The other adult family member may not be working because they have caregiving or other responsibilities at home.
  • A state by state breakdown can be found HERE

Wisconsinites Beware: Trump Administration Approves Walker’s Restrictive Medicaid Waiver

Washington DC – Today CMS approved Wisconsin’s plan to dramatically restrict Medicaid enrollment by taking coverage away from people who do not meet new burdensome work requirements or who cannot afford to pay new burdensome premiums. In response to the announcement, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, issued the following statement:

“Let’s be clear: At a time when Scott Walker is in the political fight of his career — promising over and over again that he’ll protect people with pre-existing conditions — here he is teaming up with Donald Trump to rip health care away from the families who need it the most. Wisconsinites, the vast majority of whom want to ensure people with pre-existing conditions get the coverage they need, must judge Scott Walker by what he does, not what he says. Because despite all his recent talk about protecting people, all he really does is use his power as Governor to put barriers between the hardworking people in his state and the care and coverage they need.”

BACKGROUND

MEDICAID IS A LIFELINE FOR…

…CHILDREN & FAMILIES

  • Nearly 36 Million Children Are Enrolled In Medicaid And CHIP. Roughly 35.7 million children in the United States are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
  • 38 Percent Of Children In America Are Covered By Medicaid. Nationally, nearly 2 in 5, or 38% of children in America have health insurance through Medicaid.
  • 49 Percent Of Births Are Covered By Medicaid.
  • 17 Percent of Parents Have Health Insurance Through Medicaid.
  • In 2010, Medicaid Kept 2.6 Million Americans Out Of Poverty.

…PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

  • Nearly 8.7 million adults enrolled in Medicaid have a disability. Of this group, only 43 percent qualify for social security income.

…SENIORS

  • More than 6.9 million American seniors have Medicaid coverage. 6,920,200 seniors, age 65 and older, are enrolled in Medicaid.
  • Medicaid funds 53 percent of long-term care nationwide. As seniors age, long-term care services become more and more vital, serving half of seniors over age 75 and three in four seniors over age 85.
  • Medicaid covers 6 in 10 nursing home residents. The average annual cost of nursing home care is $82,000 — nearly three times most seniors’ annual income.

…PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM OPIOID USE DISORDER

  • In 2014, Medicaid paid for 25 percent of all addiction treatment nationwide.

IN STATES WHERE SIMILAR RULES HAVE TAKEN EFFECT, THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAVE LOST CARE

  • Early results in Arkansas confirm that Medicaid work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles, threatening access to health coverage for thousands across the state. “The early results suggest that the incentives may not work the way officials had hoped. Arkansas officials, trying to minimize coverage losses, effectively exempted two-thirds of the eligible people from having to report work hours. Of the remaining third — about 20,000 people — 16,000 didn’t report qualifying activities to the state. Only 1,200 people, about 2 percent of those eligible for the requirement, told the state they had done enough of the required activities in August, according to state figures.” [New York Times, 9/24/18]
  • This summer, a federal district court blocked Kentucky from imposing similar rules for the negative effects it would have on Kentuckians. Said the court in its ruling, “[Secretary Azar] never adequately considered whether Kentucky HEALTH would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid. This signal omission renders his determination arbitrary and capricious. The Court, consequently, will vacate the approval of Kentucky’s project and remand the matter to HHS for further review.”
  • In Indiana, 25,000 people with health insurance through Medicaid were dropped from coverage because they were unable to pay their premiums. The Washington Post reported, “About 25,000 adults were disenrolled from the program between its start in 2015 and October 2017 for failure to pay their premiums, according to state reports. Yet, state officials estimate that based on surveys of recipients, about half of those who were disenrolled found another source of coverage, most often through a job…In addition to those who were disenrolled, another 46,000 adults who signed up for Medicaid during 2016 and 2017 were not accepted because they did not pay their initial premium, the state reported.”

TAKING AWAY SOMEONE’S HEALTH CARE DOES NOT HELP THEM TO WORK

  • Evidence suggests that such work requirements hurt, rather than help enrollees’ ability to find work. A study of Michigan’s Medicaid “illustrates the functional barriers to work that Medicaid beneficiaries face, and many of them result from physical and mental health challenges. This suggests to us that taking away their health coverage means that they are less likely to find work – not more so…a stable source of health coverage such as Medicaid is likely to assist people with their chronic mental and physical health conditions so that they are better able to seek employment.” In both Ohio and Michigan, having access to health care made it easier for the unemployed to find work: “majorities said that gaining health coverage has helped them look for work or remain employed. Losing coverage — and, with it, access to mental health treatment, medication to manage chronic conditions, or other important care — could have the perverse result of impeding future employment.

WORK REQUIREMENTS ADD ADMINISTRATIVE HURDLES, MAKING IT HARDER FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR CARE TO GET IT

  • Requiring People On Medicaid To Prove They Are Working Adds An Administrative Burden That Is Hardest On Low-Income Americans. “[Administrative hurdles] may be especially daunting for the poor, who tend to have less stable work schedules and less access to resources that can simplify compliance: reliable transportation, a bank account, internet access.  There is also a lot of research about the Medicaid program, specifically, that shows that sign-ups fall when states make their program more complicated.” [New York Times, 1/18/18]
  • Documentation Requirements Increase The Chances That People Will Lose Care, Simply Because They Have Trouble Navigating The Process. “There is a real risk of eligible people losing coverage due to their inability to navigate these processes, miscommunication, or other breakdowns in the administrative process. People with disabilities may have challenges navigating the system to obtain an exemption for which they qualify and end up losing coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 1/16/18]

THE VAST MAJORITY OF  PEOPLE WITH MEDICAID COVERAGE WHO WHO CAN WORK ARE WORKING

  • 60 percent of nondisabled people with health coverage through Medicaid have a job and are working, including 42 percent working full-time.
  • 51 percent of working adult Medicaid enrollees have full-time jobs year-round, but their salaries are still low enough to qualify for Medicaid coverage or have Medicaid because their employers do not offer insurance.  
  • Nearly 80 percent of nondisabled people with Medicaid coverage live in a family where at least one person is working, including 64 percent working full-time. The other adult family member may not be working because they have caregiving or other responsibilities at home.
  • A state by state breakdown can be found HERE

Seema Verma Continues to Spread Misinformation When Promoting Harmful Medicaid Work Requirements

Today, in defense of the Trump Administration’s indefensible work requirements that have kicked thousands of people off of their health care, Seema Verma, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, continued to argue  that these requirements help Medicaid enrollees attain “skills they need” and “jobs that are available.”

Say what?

Here’s the truth: TAKING AWAY SOMEONE’S HEALTH CARE DOES NOT HELP THEM TO WORK

  • Evidence suggests that such work requirements hurt, rather than help enrollees’ ability to find work. A study of Michigan’s Medicaid “illustrates the functional barriers to work that Medicaid beneficiaries face, and many of them result from physical and mental health challenges. This suggests to us that taking away their health coverage means that they are less likely to find work – not more so…a stable source of health coverage such as Medicaid is likely to assist people with their chronic mental and physical health conditions so that they they are better able to seek employment.” In both Ohio and Michigan, having access to health care made it easier for the unemployed to find work: “majorities said that gaining health coverage has helped them look for work or remain employed. Losing coverage — and, with it, access to mental health treatment, medication to manage chronic conditions, or other important care — could have the perverse result of impeding future employment.

 

  • In Michigan, Medicaid Work Requirements Hurt, Rather Than Help Enrollees’ Ability To Find Work: “The Michigan study illustrates the functional barriers to work that Medicaid beneficiaries face, and many of them result from physical and mental health challenges. This suggests to us that taking away their health coverage means that they are less likely to find work – not more so…a stable source of health coverage such as Medicaid is likely to assist people with their chronic mental and physical health conditions so that they they are better able to seek employment.” [Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, 12/15/17]

 

  • In Ohio, Health Coverage Made It Easier For The Unemployed To Look For Work: “In studies of adults who gained coverage in Ohio and Michigan under the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, majorities said that gaining health coverage has helped them look for work or remain employed. Losing coverage — and, with it, access to mental health treatment, medication to manage chronic conditions, or other important care — could have the perverse result of impeding future employment. [CBPP, 1/11/2018]

 

WORK REQUIREMENTS ADD ADMINISTRATIVE HURDLES, MAKING IT HARDER FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR CARE TO GET IT

  • Early results in Arkansas confirm that Medicaid work requirements are fundamentally bureaucratic hurdles, threatening access to health coverage for thousands across the state. “The early results suggest that the incentives may not work the way officials had hoped. Arkansas officials, trying to minimize coverage losses, effectively exempted two-thirds of the eligible people from having to report work hours. Of the remaining third — about 20,000 people — 16,000 didn’t report qualifying activities to the state. Only 1,200 people, about 2 percent of those eligible for the requirement, told the state they had done enough of the required activities in August, according to state figures.” [New York Times, 9/24/18]

 

  • Requiring People On Medicaid To Prove They Are Working Adds An Administrative Burden That Is Hardest On Low-Income Americans. “[Administrative hurdles] may be especially daunting for the poor, who tend to have less stable work schedules and less access to resources that can simplify compliance: reliable transportation, a bank account, internet access.  There is also a lot of research about the Medicaid program, specifically, that shows that sign-ups fall when states make their program more complicated.” [New York Times, 1/18/18]

 

  • Documentation Requirements Increase The Chances That People Will Lose Care, Simply Because They Have Trouble Navigating The Process. “There is a real risk of eligible people losing coverage due to their inability to navigate these processes, miscommunication, or other breakdowns in the administrative process. People with disabilities may have challenges navigating the system to obtain an exemption for which they qualify and end up losing coverage.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 1/16/18]

 

Federal Court Protects Health Care for 97,000 Kentuckians

Washington, D.C. – Today, a federal district court issued a scathing rebuke of the Trump Administration’s approval of Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver putting health care for up to 97,000 Kentuckians at risk by imposing rigid work requirements that could be impossible for many of the people most in need to meet.  In response, Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement:

“This decision is a victory for the Kentuckians who need affordable health care the most — children, people with chronic health care conditions, and low-wage workers. Nearly 100,000 Kentuckians stood to lose coverage if this mean-spirited law was to take effect. But this fight isn’t over, since Governor Bevin made it plain he’d throw health care for 500,000 Kentuckians overboard if the court didn’t rule in his favor. We call on Governor Bevin to stand down from his crusade against Kentucky families who rely on Medicaid for coverage, and instead turn his focus to the urgent health needs confronting the people of his state, like the tragic opioid crisis.”

Said the Court in its ruling today: “[Secretary Azar] never adequately considered whether Kentucky HEALTH would in fact help the state furnish medical assistance to its citizens, a central objective of Medicaid. This signal omission renders his determination arbitrary and capricious. The Court, consequently, will vacate the approval of Kentucky’s project and remand the matter to HHS for further review.”

BACKGROUND:

  • 500,000 Kentuckians could lose coverage if Gov. Bevin ends the state’s Medicaid expansion,  according to Kentucky Health and Family Services Secretary Adam Meier.
  • Low-wage workers made up the majority of Medicaid-eligible adults who gained coverage under the state’s expansion.
  • Those currently covered by Medicaid in Kentucky include:
    • 561,326 children, composing 39 percent of all state Medicaid enrollees;
    • 9,500 veterans and 5,300 spouses of veterans, who gained coverage under expansion;
    • 44 percent of all births in the state;
    • 90,794 elder Americans aged 65 and older, and
    • 161,380 Medicaid enrollees who are disabled or require long-term care.
  • Medicaid is supported by 74 percent of Americans.

Trump Administration Targets Native Americans As GOP War on Health Care Continues

Washington, D.C. – This week, Politico reported that the Trump Administration may impose work requirements on Native Americans who have Medicaid coverage. Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement in response:

“Medicaid work requirements are yet another form of health care sabotage: nothing more, nothing less.  They serve no purpose but to shrink Medicaid enrollment, a goal that President Trump and Republicans continue to pursue through administrative sabotage as well as their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. These requirements are burdensome, unnecessary, and expensive to administer, and now the Trump Administration has decided to target Native Americans’ coverage, marking a new low in their war on health care.  

“Enough already. Medicaid is vital to the health and well-being of vulnerable populations – children, seniors, Americans with disabilities, and Native Americans – who frequently face unique barriers to high-quality health care, and imposing additional barriers upon Native Americans to access health care is mean-spirited and wrong. We urge Congress and the American people to speak out against President Trump’s ongoing war on health care and ensure that policies like these are reversed or don’t see the light of day in the first place.”  

BACKGROUND

This Is Not The Trump Administration’s First Attack On Native Americans’ Health: “The Trump administration also targeted the Indian Health Service for significant cuts in last year’s budget, though Congress ignored those cuts in its omnibus funding package last month, H.R. 1625 (115). The White House budget this year proposed eliminating popular initiatives like the decades-old community health representative program — even though tribal health officials say it is essential.” [Politico, 4/22/18]

Caitrin McCarron Shuy, Indian National Health Board: “It’s Very Troublesome.” “‘It’s very troublesome,’ said Caitrin McCarron Shuy of the National Indian Health Board, noting that Native Americans suffer from the nation’s highest drug overdose death rates, among other health concerns. ‘There’s high unemployment in Indian country, and it’s going to create a barrier to accessing necessary Medicaid services.’” [Politico, 4/22/18]

REACTION ROUNDUP: States Face Wave of Resistance to Trump-Inspired Medicaid Cuts

As states start to take advantage of the Trump Administration’s invitation to strip Medicaid coverage away from millions by imposing restrictions such as ‘work’ requirements designed to reduce access to coverage, these proposals face a wave of backlash from local editorial boards, lawmakers, health care providers, hospitals, and advocates:

Iowa (legislation to impose work requirements introduced in Feb. 2018)

Des Moines Register editorial: Medicaid bill demonizes low-income Iowans with delays, drug tests, work requirements. Iowa state Sen. Tom Greene, R-Burlington, is sponsoring Senate File 2158, a measure which “directs the Iowa Department of Human Services to seek federal approval to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients.” The paper adds, “One would think Greene, who worked as a pharmacist for four decades, would understand the importance of ensuring Iowans get care needed to be productive members of society. Then again, the part-time lawmaker was not required to pee in a cup or wait six months to enjoy his taxpayer-subsidized family coverage.” [Des Moines Register, 2/14/18]

Louisiana (expected to propose work requirements in mid-Feb. 2018)

Republican state lawmaker skeptical: “Medicaid work requirements probably would not save much money as the state tries to close a looming $1 billion budget shortfall, he added. Louisiana legislators have expressed similar concerns. ‘I’m skeptical that it’s going to be any real savings,’ said Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge.” [Louisiana Daily Comet, 2/6/18]

West Virginia (considering Medicaid work requirements as of Feb. 2018)

Charleston Gazette-Mail editorial: Work requirements don’t help people work. “Helping people achieve gainful employment and self-sufficiency is exactly the right goal. Disrupting people’s health coverage will not accomplish it. Medicaid recipients already struggle to maintain employment and support themselves. Otherwise, they wouldn’t qualify for Medicaid…A smarter, not to mention more humane, approach would be to remove as many barriers to health care access as possible for the state’s most challenged residents. The smarter approach would be to err on the side of inclusion. Cover more West Virginians, and don’t hassle them off of Medicaid month after month as their work status fluctuates.” [Charleston Gazette-Mail, 1/25/18]

Missouri (state has called for legislation to pursue work requirement)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial: Job requirements for Medicaid recipients won’t work and might actually backfire. “Tracking down these people will require state governments to expand their staffing to police the work requirement and administer the paperwork. If the work requirement is similar to that required for coverage under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, child care and transportation will have to be subsidized if it’s available. The cost savings for taxpayers is starting to look a little hazy…Ironically, researchers say that taking health insurance away from people makes it less likely they will be able to get and keep a job. This will be particularly true if, as expected, the burden of the work requirement falls most heavily on those with physical or mental impairments not yet certified as permanent disabilities.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1/15/18]

Missouri family medicine physician: Rolling back Medicaid will worsen Missouri’s opioid crisis. “For Missourians struggling with opioid addiction, Medicaid is the difference between life and death. The medications I prescribe can help 50 percent of patients begin recovery and stay healthy in the long term. With access to these medications, I see many of my patients rebuilding their lives, advancing in their careers and enjoying life with their families. But without Medicaid, many will lose access to the treatment and medications that we know are effective. Even for those with full-time jobs, many Missourians simply don’t make enough to afford private health insurance, and Medicaid is their only option to afford health care.” [Columbia Missourian, 1/31/18]

Maine (work requirement submitted for approval on 8/2/2017)

Portland Press-Herald editorial: Medicaid limits are not what Maine voters want. “MaineCare is health care, not welfare. People on the program don’t get a check every month that discourages them from working. But they do get a chance to go to see a doctor when they are sick, or fill prescriptions that keep chronic diseases at bay. Adding more hurdles to applying for benefits will inevitably result in eligible people failing to be enrolled. The bureaucratic nightmare of trying to figure out who has received how much coverage during their lifetimes would slow the process for everyone … Cutting off someone’s health care is not going to make them more likely to work — just the opposite is true. Illness is one of the main barriers that prevents people from working.” [Portland Press Herald, 2/8/18]

Bangor Daily News editorial: The contorted logic of allowing states to require work as a condition for Medicaid. “If work requirements in a food assistance program are likely to lead to a diminished state of health for thousands of low-income adults, it’s not hard to imagine the damaging health effects of imposing work requirements in a benefit program designed explicitly to ensure that the poorest among us can access health care.” [Bangor Daily News, 1/19/18]

South Dakota (Gov. Dennis Daugaard has called for Medicaid work requirements)

Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan editorial: Be wary of what’s lurking in the details of Medicaid work requirements. “The statement also feeds the long-held generalization embraced by some people that many of those receiving some form of low-income assistance are basically living off the government dole instead of working. However, a lot of low-income people who receive Medicaid are already working but aren’t able to make ends meet or afford basic health care, which Medicaid helps provide…If handled properly, the work requirement for Medicaid proposed by Daugaard — and pushed by the White House — may impact only a small segment of recipients. If this move becomes something more than that — which, unfortunately, could be vaguely implied by Verma’s blunt remarks — then the idea may be little more than subterfuge for something else.” [Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, 1/20/18]

Kansas (work requirement submitted for approval on 12/20/2017)

Health execs: Don’t equate work requirements with job stability. “‘If the state is going to make further changes to the KanCare program, it will put a greater burden on the state’s general fund, hospitals and providers, said Brenda Sharpe, CEO of the REACH Healthcare Foundation. ‘The misconception of who is on Medicaid is rampant.’ Sharpe also said the proposed changes fail to account for the type of jobs most low-income workers hold. For example, a construction job may be seasonal, and a retail worker’s schedule may very week by week — then throw in the need for child care. ‘If they lose their job for three months because they work in an outdoor setting, are you going to kick them off benefits for three months?… The best thing you can do to get someone to keep a job is to give them health insurance.’” [Kansas City Business Journal, 1/24/18]

Arizona (work requirement submitted for approval on 1/4/2018)

Arizona Alliance for Healthcare Security: “They have no evidence of anyone taking advantage of the system, so this just becomes another obstacle for people to overcome in order to get Medicaid benefits.” [Inside Tucson Business, 1/19/18]

Arkansas (work requirement submitted for approval on 6/30/2017)

Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families: “Arkansas Works, the state’s Medicaid expansion program, has successfully provided hundreds of thousands of Arkansans with affordable health care coverage and has saved the state money in charity payments to providers for uncompensated care. But the proposed changes are designed to remove people from coverage without giving them a comparable alternative. This is not just bad policy – it runs counter to Medicaid’s core mission of providing health care coverage to low-income people.” [AACF report, 1/4/18]

Kentucky (work requirement approved on 1/12/2018)

Lexington Herald-Leader editorial: Cutting unemployment benefits won’t strengthen Ky. workforce. “The best hope for addiction treatment is Medicaid, but the state is getting ready to impose new work requirements and other hurdles to treatment and the chance at a responsible life.” [Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/14/18]

Policy analyst: “You’re spending more money to cover fewer people.” “Cost savings come from the assumption that nearly 100,000 people will drop out of Medicaid by the end of the five-year project recently approved by the federal government. For those who remain, the monthly cost of care increases faster than it would have had the state made no changes, according to the administration’s projections. ‘You’re spending more money to cover fewer people,’ said Dustin Pugel, a policy analyst for the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy in Berea and a critic of the Bevin plan. I’m not crazy about the idea of us spending more money to cover fewer people.'” [Louisville Courier Journal, 2/14/18]

Indiana Daily Student editorial: Kentucky’s Medicaid requirements hurt more than help. “There are patients on Medicaid who are disabled, need cancer treatment and have other situations that would make working impossible or incredibly difficult.” [Indiana Daily Student, 2/5/18]

Utah (work requirement submitted for approval on 8/16/2017)

Op-ed: Medicaid ‘work mandate’ is misguided policy. The 1115 waiver’s “work requirement” is a fancy term for ‘work mandate’; it is in fact designed to provide less coverage overall.  Utah children and parents will be caught in a poverty cycle. Utahns will be far less healthy than they would be with full Medicaid expansion through the Utah Decides ballot initiative.” [Utah Policy, 1/11/18]

 

Wisconsin (work requirement submitted for approval on 6/15/2017)

Policy analyst: “Requiring you to work to get healthy — there’s something backwards there.” “‘If you’re not healthy, it’s difficult to work,’ said Mike Bare, research director for Community Advocates’ Public Policy Institute in Milwaukee. ‘Requiring you to work to get healthy — there’s something backwards there.’” [Wisconsin State Journal, 1/11/18]

Madison nonprofit: Work requirements only make lives harder. “‘This is targeted at the lowest-income folks that we have out there, people who have difficult lives already,’ said Bobby Peterson, executive director of ABC for Health, a nonprofit public interest law firm in Madison. ‘We’re just making it harder for them.’” [Wisconsin State Journal, 1/11/18]

Illinois (Rauner administration developing Medicaid work requirement)

Shriver National Center on Poverty Law: A Medicaid work requirement would be cruel — and costly. “Medicaid work requirements will largely be used to punish people in dire need for forces beyond their control…Ironically, by taking crucial medical assistance away from people who are already struggling, work requirements will make finding or maintaining employment much more difficult. The fact of the matter is that Medicaid, like most other major anti-poverty programs, serves as a work support.” [Chicago Tribune, 1/23/18]

Ohio (Kasich administration preparing to submit application)

Ohio Center for Community Solutions: “To suddenly remove these resources not only dis-benefits this huge area of employment and this huge area of economic impact for providers and others, it would have drastic impacts on things like the opioid epidemic, on chronic-disease management.” [Cleveland Scene, 2/12/18]

South Carolina (McMaster administration has directed Medicaid agency to submit application)

South Carolina Hospital Association VP: “If anything, we should help them get the care they need so they can return to work and lead more fulfilling lives.” “After all, most Medicaid beneficiaries in South Carolina are already working. Among those who are not, 52 percent are disabled or too sick, while another 32 percent act as caregivers. Community-engagement requirements shouldn’t punish the sick or discriminate against those with disabilities; if anything, we should help them get the care they need so they can return to work and lead more fulfilling lives.” [The State, 2/7/18]

Tennessee (House speaker has filed Medicaid work requirements bill)

TennCare Work Plan Would Affect 86K, Cost $18.7M. “A state analysis says legislation seeking to require certain able-bodied TennCare recipients to work, volunteer or attend school would affect 86,400 people and cost the state $18.7 million annually…The $18.7 million net cost notably includes $22.3 million more in anticipated case management state costs and $3.7 million in estimated state savings from disenrollments, assuming a 2020 program start.” [U.S. News & World Report, 2/14/18]

Chattanooga Times Free Press: Nearly 87,000 adult TennCare enrollees could be affected under work requirement plan. “As many as 86,400 able-bodied adult enrollees on Tennessee’s Medicaid program could be affected by a bill that seeks to require they work, attend school, volunteer or face losing their health benefits, according to a legislative analysis … Rep. John Ray Clemmons, D-Nashville, said ‘the data is clear’ with proponents’ ‘ultimate’ goal being ‘to kick people off’ of TennCare, the state’s Medicaid program.” [Chattanooga Times Free Press, 2/14/18]

… and 160 National, State, and Local Organizations Oppose Work Requirements in Letter to Secretary Azar: “CMS’s Medicaid work requirements policy is directly at odds with bipartisan efforts to curb the opioid crisis .. and will have a significant and disproportionately harmful effect on individuals with chronic health conditions, especially those struggling with substance use disorders (SUDs) and mental health disorders.”  [2/15/18]

ADAP Advocacy Association (aaa+)

Addiction Policy Forum

Advocacy Center of Louisiana

AIDS United

Alameda County Community Food Bank

American Association on Health and Disability

American Association of People with Disabilities

American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD)

American Civil Liberties Union

American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

American Group Psychotherapy Association

American Psychological Association

American Society of Addiction Medicine

Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare

Bailey House, Inc.

Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists

Brooklyn Defender Services

CADA of Northwest Louisiana

California Consortium of Addiction Programs & Professionals

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Backlash Against Proposed Medicaid Cuts Continues

As national backlash to the Trump Administration’s attacks against Medicaid continued, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“We continue to stand against the Trump Administration’s illegal plan to force people off their coverage. The American people want Congressional Republicans to stop stacking the deck against working Americans and for Congress to preserve Medicaid for generations to come.”

Kentucky Rushes to Remake Medicaid as Other States Prepare to Follow

New York Times // Abby Goodnough // February 10, 2018

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With approval from the Trump administration fresh in hand, Kentucky is rushing to roll out its first-in-the-nation plan to require many Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer or train for a job — even as critics mount a legal challenge to stop it on the grounds that it violates the basic tenets of the program.

At least eight other Republican-led states are hoping to follow — a ninth, Indiana, has already won permission to do so — and some want to go even further by imposing time limits on coverage.

Such restrictions are central to Republican efforts to profoundly change Medicaid, the safety net program that has provided free health insurance to tens of millions of low-income Americans for more than 50 years. The ballooning deficits created by the budget deal that President Trump signed into law Friday and the recent tax bill are likely to add urgency to the party’s attempts to wring savings from entitlement programs.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, said Thursday that addressing entitlement spending is “what you need to do to fully deal with this debt crisis,” though Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader from Kentucky, said he has ruled out doing so this year.

As Kentucky pushes forward, many who work with the poor are worried that the thicket of new documentation requirements in Medicaid will be daunting for low-income people, who may have little education and struggle with transportation, paying for cellphone minutes and getting access to the internet. Not only that, they note, but the new rules will add the type of administrative costs and governmental burdens that Republicans tend to revile.

On a recent rainy Monday, Bill Wagner, who runs primary care clinics in poor neighborhoods here, listened tensely as a state health official explained how the state would enforce the complex and contentious new rules.

The 20 hours a week of work, job training or volunteering? Ten regional work force boards will monitor who complies, said the official, Kristi Putnam.

The monthly premiums of $1 to $15 that many will now owe? The managed care companies that contract with the state will collect them.

The “rewards dollars” that many will need to earn to get their teeth cleaned or their vision checked? They’ll be tracked through a new online platform, where Medicaid recipients will also be expected to upload their work, volunteer or training hours.

“I know it sounds a little bit complicated,” Ms. Putnam conceded as the group meeting with her, which has overseen efforts to enroll Louisville residents in health insurance in the Obamacare era, jotted notes. Someone heaved a sigh.

After four years of signing up thousands of people for coverage under the health law’s expansion of the Medicaid program, Mr. Wagner told the room, “We’re shifting our focus from helping people gain coverage to helping people keep it.”

The rationale of Gov. Matt Bevin and other supporters is that Medicaid was created for the most vulnerable citizens — those who aren’t only poor, but pregnant, elderly, children or disabled — and that for everyone else, working or otherwise engaging in their community will provide dignity and better health. About 500,000 Kentuckians have joined the Medicaid rolls under the Obamacare expansion, and the state estimates some 350,000 will be subject to the new work rules.

While the work requirement is unprecedented in the history of Medicaid, Mr. Wagner and others say they’re just as concerned about other new rules that will be confusing and hard to follow. For example, many adults who don’t pay their small premiums can be locked out of Medicaid for six months, unless they complete a financial or health literacy course. Others will lose access to dental and vision care.

Critics of the plan point to Indiana, which dropped about 25,000 adults from its Medicaid program from 2015 through 2017 for failing to pay premiums there. About half found other coverage, according to state surveys, typically through a job.

Mark Lee Coleman, a diabetic who was visiting a busy clinic run by Family Health Centers, the nonprofit network that Mr. Wagner heads, one recent morning, had heard next to nothing about the new rules. He needed refills on his medications; his blood sugar level had climbed so high without them that he risked falling into a diabetic coma. But first Mr. Coleman needed help figuring out why his Medicaid coverage had been canceled late last year, even before the new rules kicked in.

A counselor at the clinic called the state Medicaid office and found out Mr. Coleman, 49, had forgotten to report a change in income last July, when he switched from a higher-paying job at an Amazon warehouse to a less physically demanding job as a parts driver for Pep Boys, the automotive chain. After she helped him email a pay stub to the office, his coverage was set to be reinstated within a few days.

Once Kentucky’s new rules take effect this spring and summer, Mr. Coleman will also have to report a monthly tally of his work hours to keep his coverage.

Matt and Sarah Burress, and their children, at home in Mount Washington, Ky. Mr. Burress, who owns a small lawn care business and doesn’t work all winter, wonders how the new rules would affect seasonal, self-employed workers. Credit Aaron Borton for The New York Times
He now works 20 hours a week, but he has neuropathy, a numbness and tingling in his hands and feet, and sometimes has trouble walking. Should he cut back his hours, he’d either have to try to get classified as “medically frail,” which would exempt him from the work rule, or lose his coverage.

He hasn’t thought all that through yet. In concept, though, he supports work requirements — as do most voters, polls have found.

“That’s not bad, to tell you the truth,” he said. “If you’re working, that’s good for your health.

As he spoke, he gulped water from a bottle he kept refilling — his extreme thirst a sign of his health crisis. Kara Peers, a case worker at Family Health Centers, tried to gauge what other challenges he and his wife and four children might be facing that could interfere with his ability to manage his disease.

“What about food, sir?” she asked.

“Ah, we’re kind of low,” he replied.

“Utilities — are you able to pay the bill?”

“It can be tough.”

He left with a month’s worth of medications — three for diabetes, one for high blood pressure, paid for by the clinic — and the reassurance that his Medicaid would soon be reinstated. Melissa Mather, the communications director at Family Health Centers, said she worried that patients like him, who already stumble over Medicaid’s paperwork requirements, will be more lost under the new rules. She and Mr. Wagner are also worried about their homeless patients, who will be subject to the rules unless they meet the federal definition of “chronically homeless” and get an exemption.

“This is a very, very big concern from my perspective — talking about the complexity of these changes when a lot of the folks we deal with have lives that are in chaos already,” she said.

For now, there are more questions than answers, as state workers like Ms. Putnam hustle to iron out all the details, let alone explain them. Like Mr. Carter, Sarah and Matt Burress got Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act after going uninsured for years. The coverage may have saved Mr. Burress’s eyesight — though only 29, he was diagnosed with advanced glaucoma when he went for a routine eye check shortly after becoming insured in 2015.

Now he’s worried about keeping his coverage because he runs his own small lawn care business, working irregular hours with a hiatus that lasts all winter.

“We haven’t heard how it will work for seasonal self-employed workers,” said Ms. Burress, who works part time as an office manager. “Do his clients have to say, ‘Yeah, he mowed my grass this week?’ Part of it feels like they’re trying to catch you, by burying people in paperwork and making it a huge inconvenience.”

She added that she and her husband plan to remain on Medicaid only until his business starts turning a profit. “This was never meant to be our permanent fix,” she said, not the “dead-end entitlement trap” that Mr. Bevin rails against.

Most people on Medicaid do work, research has found; Those who don’t often are disabled, even though they may not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. Sheila Penney, 54, has cycled in and out of jobs for years with chronic depression and anxiety that started when she lost her father at 16. She has worked as a package handler, a boat reservations manager and even a health insurance enrollment counselor, helping patients at Family Health Centers sign up for Medicaid back in 2014.

But she has not worked at all for the last two years, focusing instead on getting her mental health problems under control and relying on her mother to pay her rent. Now she’s a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed last month to stop Kentucky’s new requirements from taking effect. With Medicaid, she is able to go weekly to a therapist and monthly to a psychiatric nurse practitioner who adjusts her medication, she said.

“I’m wanting to go back to work, but if I was told, ‘You have to go back,’ I do think that would step up my anxiety,” Ms. Penney said. “Volunteering would be less pressure, but you would still want to be consistent and reliable.”

Caring full time for a child or other family member can also count toward the work requirement, as can going to school full time, though neither will apply to Ms. Penney.

She expects she will find a way to pay the new premiums she’ll owe under the plan — $4 a month — but predicts it will mean going without other necessities at times. (She is poor enough under the new rules that if she fails to pay them, she will lose access to dental and vision coverage but not be dropped from coverage altogether.)

“I was at the store yesterday, looking in my wallet and going, ‘Do I have enough money for dog food?” she said. “The thought of taking on even one more expense feels overwhelming.”

For Kimberly Dandridge, who overcame breast cancer and addiction to crack cocaine earlier in her life, Medicaid is a bridge while she works toward a job that comes with benefits. Ms. Dandridge, 53, works 30 hours a week as an administrative assistant, and said she would have no trouble meeting the premium and work requirements — but could relate to those who might.

“I remember there was a time I was just down, in the gutter, so low and broken,” she said. “If people like that need medical attention, just let them get it.”

 

Protect Our Care Statement On Approval Of Kentucky Medicaid Waiver

In response to the news that the Trump Administration granted the approval of Kentucky’s waiver to implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse issued the following statement:

“Today’s move from Republicans marks not just a shift in policy, but a shift in the fundamental decency of the United States. Medicaid has long been a lifeline for millions of hard-working Americans – our parents and grandparents, siblings and children. After more than fifty years and nine bipartisan administrations, it is Donald Trump who will cut Americans off from their health care.

“Despite the rhetoric pushed by this Administration and Republicans in Congress, the simple truth is that the majority of those covered by Medicaid who can work are working, largely in low-wage jobs or industries that don’t provide health care, and those who are not working overwhelmingly have chronic health conditions or are taking care of a sick family member. In Kentucky, where nearly 50 percent of all births are covered under Medicaid and nearly 10,000 veterans received the health care they deserve through Medicaid expansion, 20,000 people stand to lose coverage. This decision harms the most vulnerable among us, and abandons the next generation born into circumstances beyond their power.

“Changing Medicaid will do nothing to help Americans find jobs. It will merely take away their health care. It’s a cruel, short-sighted policy, and every Republican who goes along with it should be ashamed.”

LATEST SABOTAGE:Trump Admin Continues Destructive Plot with New Strike Against Medicaid

Protect Our Care tells Trump: Do your own job & leave hard working Americans’ care alone

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the Trump Administration’s attempt to impose onerous work requirements on Americans covered by Medicaid, Protect Our Care Campaign Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Today’s attack on Medicaid is just the latest salvo of the Trump Administration’s 2018 war on health care. Having faced overwhelming public rejection of their failed attempts to repeal health care, Trump and his Congressional Republicans are now going for death by a thousand cuts.

“Republicans want to ignore the truth in order to push their partisan health care agenda, but the majority of adults covered by Medicaid who can work, do work – often two or three jobs in fields like the service industry that are less likely to offer insurance. This new attack on Medicaid has nothing to do with program integrity, and everything to do with the recently revealed step-by-step Trump Administration plot to wage war on our health care.

“President Trump, it’s time for you to do your job instead of forcing onerous extra requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries who are already doing theirs. It’s time for you and your Republican allies to end your attacks on our care.”

BACKGROUND

Kaiser Family Foundation, 8/18/17: “Most Medicaid adults work in industries with low offer rates for employer-sponsored insurance, such as agriculture and food service.”

Health Affairs, 3/6/17: “These policy ideas stem from a serious misunderstanding about Medicaid recipients and a flawed belief that employment effectively assures health insurance coverage. In reality, only a small share of the adults covered by Medicaid expansions are in good health but not working, in school, or looking for work. Moreover, the types of low-wage jobs available to Medicaid enrollees are unlikely to offer meaningful health insurance coverage.”

Kaiser Family Foundation, 8/18/17: “Nearly 8 in 10 [Medicaid recipients] live in working families, and a majority are working themselves… Research shows that Medicaid expansion has not negatively affected labor market participation, and some research indicates that Medicaid coverage supports work. A comprehensive review of research on the ACA Medicaid expansion found that there is no significant negative effect of the ACA Medicaid expansion on employment rates and other measures of employment and employee behavior.”

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/28/17: “A work requirement in Medicaid would penalize those least able to get and hold a job — while keeping others from improving their health and participating in the workforce… Many adults on Medicaid are disabled or are caring for a family member. Many others have low-wage jobs that don’t offer health coverage. For those who can work, Medicaid can help them keep their job or search for work. Three-quarters of beneficiaries in Ohio who received care under the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion and who were looking for work reported that Medicaid made it easier to do so. For those who were currently working, more than half said that Medicaid made it easier to keep their jobs.”

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/28/17: “A work requirement would likely reduce the number of people who could access care through Medicaid and there’s no evidence that it would increase employment among poor families. The experience of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program is telling. The 1996 welfare reform law converted the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program into the TANF block grant and imposed a work requirement. While touted as a ‘work opportunity’ program, TANF has failed to increase long-term employment among its beneficiaries. Before the 1996 law took effect, 68 every 100 poor families with children received basic cash assistance to help make ends meet; today, just 23 do. Sanctions on parents who didn’t meet a work requirement have been a factor in that drop.”