President Donald Trump and his administration recently sparked the fury of big government Democrats when they announced that they were open to individual states adding work requirements to their Medicaid systems.
According to Politico, the announcement came by way of a policy guidance issued by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma in response to requests from roughly a dozen states for more “flexibility” in implementing the program.
“Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population,” Verma said in a statement on Thursday, according to Politico. “Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries.”
The new policy would allow states to implement changes to Medicaid eligibility, such as requiring able-bodied adults to work or volunteer at least 20 hours per week, if not enrolled in school or vocational training, to remain eligible to receive benefits.
The states expected to take advantage of this policy shift include: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.
According to USA Today, Kentucky wasted little time in adopting the new policy as its own, and on Friday became the first state in the nation to add work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients.
“I am excited by the fact that Kentucky will now lead the nation,” stated Republican Gov. Matt Bevin at a news conference, USA Today reported. “We’re ready to show America how this can and will be done.”
“It will be a model for the nation,” he added.
Beginning in July, all Kentucky Medicaid recipients of working age who are capable of working must work or volunteer for 20 hours per week if they aren’t enrolled in school of some sort.
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Those recipients excluded from the new work requirements include the disabled, the elderly, those with severe medical issues that make them “frail,” pregnant women, and adults who care full-time for dependent children or adults.
According to TheBlaze, the Kentucky work requirement is expected to affect about 200,000 Medicaid recipients in the state, most of whom were added to the system after it was expanded under Obamacare.
Bevin, who has previously stated that rising Medicaid costs were “not sustainable” in the long run, estimated that his state could see savings of as much as $300 million over the next five years due to the change.
He also suggested that the “dignity of work” could help some struggling recipients “rise up out of poverty” through employment, and noted that people who work tend to be healthier than those who don’t.
Of course, there are plenty of critics to the new work requirements, some of whom have hysterically stated that “people will die” if they lose their Medicaid coverage.
Those critics also say the addition of work requirements is illegal and have threatened legal action to stop the implementation, and laughably complained that the move would add more “red tape” to the already complicated bureaucracy Democrats helped create.
Other states are certain to follow Kentucky’s lead on this issue, and it will be interesting to see how the new requirements work out for them over the next several years. We suspect, rather than people dying in the streets due to lost coverage, enrollment and costs will be reduced as more people acquire employment and no longer need Medicaid assistance.
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