FED WATCH: How Placing Work Requirements On Medicaid Eligibility Punishes Caregivers

As Congress debates a tax plan that will undoubtedly hurt working families, the Trump administration is hard at work doing the same.
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As Congress debates a tax plan that will undoubtedly hurt working families, the Trump administration is hard at work doing the same.

On November 7, Seema Verma, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator indicated that CMS will approve state proposals requesting a waiver to place work requirements on Medicaid eligibility. This means in order for working-age adults without disabilities to receive Medicaid, they would have to meet certain work requirements, which each state defines differently, and for which there are no clear guidelines or standards.

So far, eight states including Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Utah, and Wisconsin have applied for such waivers. If granted, tens of thousands of people in those states —nearly a third of whom do not work because they have caregiving responsibilities—could lose their health insurance.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly two-thirds of Medicaid enrollees are already working and close to 80 percent are in families with at least one worker. Of those that do not work, 35 percent of Medicaid recipients are not working due to illness or disabilities; 18 percent because they are in school; 8 percent because they cannot find work; and 8 percent are retired. And nearly 30 percent, or close to a third, of Medicaid enrollees that do not work are out of the workforce because they are taking care of home or family responsibilities.

Placing work requirements on caregivers’ healthcare will harm both caregivers and care recipients. If caregivers cannot address their own health needs it will make it all the more difficult for them to care for family members. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program already includes a work requirement and a recent study found that such requirements neither reduced poverty nor did they increase workforce participation.

Verma’s speech signals the Trump administration’s continued assault on working families and caregivers and A Better Balance will not stand for it. We will continue to fight to ensure all Americans have the ability to care for their families without compromising their health or economic security by making it clear exactly who is hurt by these draconian policies and fighting back while continuing to push for policies—including paid family leave, paid sick time, and pregnancy accommodations—that support, not harm, working families. Help us in this fight by making a donation today.


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