Biden administration to undo Medicaid work requirements

The Biden administration is moving to roll back Medicaid work requirements in its latest effort to undo a controversial Trump-era policy

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is moving to roll back Medicaid work requirements in its latest effort to undo a controversial Trump-era policy.

The move, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, follows an executive order Biden signed last month that directed officials to review and remove barriers to Medicaid coverage.

Medicaid is a $600 billion federal-state program that covers about 70 million people, from pregnant women and newborns to disabled people and elderly nursing home residents. Under the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, states gained the option of expanding the program to many low-income adults previously ineligible. More than 12 million people have gained coverage as a result.

The Trump administration allowed states to require “able-bodied” adults drawing Medicaid benefits to work, volunteer or study.

Before the pandemic, nearly 20 states had tried to implement requirements after the administration invited them in 2018 to submit such proposals. A federal judge blocked the requirements in Arkansas and New Hampshire, as well as in Kentucky, before the state’s Democratic governor reversed course and dropped its requirements. Two other states, Arizona and Indiana, have blocked enforcement or implementation, citing litigation.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge called the decision by the Biden administration an “overreach of executive power.”

“It is unfortunate that President Biden and his administration felt compelled to take steps to withdraw the approval of Arkansas’s work-requirement pilot program without giving it an opportunity to succeed,” she said in a statement. “The one-size-fits-all Medicaid program doesn’t work.”

“In the midst of the greatest public health emergency in generations, now more than ever, people with Medicaid need access to care,” the statement reads. “This is not the time to experiment or test policies that risk a substantial loss of health coverage or benefits, especially for individuals and communities significantly impacted by COVID-19 and other health inequities.”

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