Kentucky becomes first USA state to impose Medicaid work provisions

Kentucky becomes first USA state to impose Medicaid work provisions

Kentucky on Friday became the first USA state to require that Medicaid recipients work or get jobs training, after gaining federal approval for the fundamental change to the 50-year-old health insurance program for the poor. Stephen Miller, the Medicaid commissioner for Kentucky, which received authority Friday to implement a work requirement, said the new policy will "allow states the flexibility to pursue innovative approaches to improve the health and well-being of Medicaid beneficiaries".

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, told The News Service of Florida on Wednesday that the state's $26 billion Medicaid program is comprised mostly of children and seniors and that work requirements are more geared toward able-bodied adults who qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.

If a person hasn't had Medicaid coverage for the previous five years, he or she will get a three-month grace period for the work requirement.

The red tape associated with work requirements also adds a new burden on the agencies that administer Medicaid benefits, Musumeci noted. Besides employment, it can include job training, volunteering or caring for a close relative. "People who participate in activities that increase their education and training are more likely to find sustainable employment, have higher earnings, a better quality of life, and, studies have shown, improved health outcomes". The difference this time around is that the federal government will recognize it. The state must settle basic questions, including whether people would have to meet the new conditions at the time of enrollment, at the annual renewal of their Medicaid coverage or at another time. "Medicaid is a health program that is supposed to serve people who don't otherwise have coverage". "But we really need to encourage work, and I'm glad to see the Trump administration favor it", Bradley said.

And, since the expansion of Medicaid under the, its benefits have been a key component in addressing the rise of substance abuse.

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"This is creating an impediment to people who might've lost their job and in fact need help getting work, not an extra requirement that keeps them from getting the needed medical care that keeps them healthy", Wagner said. Almost 60 percent work either full time or part time, mainly for employers that don't offer health insurance. If an individual already satisfies a work requirement in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP or "food stamps") or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), then they will automatically satisfy the Medicaid requirement. It's not about personal responsibility - most already work.

But Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Chairwoman Anitere Flores, R-Miami, said the Senate has not discussed requiring those now enrolled in the program to work.

Former governor Steve Beshear originally expanded Kentucky's Medicaid program to include people making up to 138 percent of the poverty limit after the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, setting up a funding stream for states to expand the program for low-income Americans. "We don't have childless able-bodied working age adults in our system, so I don't know how that would transpose to us". Officials in several other states have said they are interested in the idea.

Beyond the opioid crisis, the new policy also threatens a range of low-income people.

But work requirements have strong public backing. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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