Conservatives have long wanted to impose work requirements on those receiving Medicaid benefits, and the Trump administration is determined to help, announcing Thursday that it will begin handing out waivers for states that wish to ensure enrollees are working before they're eligible for assistance.
Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), says the move will help people get out of poverty.
“Our policy guidance was in response to states that asked us for the flexibility they need to improve their programs and to help people in achieving greater well-being and self-sufficiency,” Verma said in a statement.
Democrats are unsurprisingly against the move, concerned that people who need it will lose their coverage and that others might be discouraged from applying in the first place.
“Today’s attack on Medicaid is just the latest salvo of the Trump Administration’s 2018 war on health care," Brad Woodhouse, director of the pro-ObamaCare group Protect Our Care, said in a statement. "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."
Verma is unconcerned about enrollment numbers dropping, saying that people leaving the program is the goal:
“People moving off of Medicaid is a good outcome because we hope that that means they don’t need the program anymore,” Verma said.
The Hill notes that ten states are already applying for the waiver, with Kentucky expected to be the first state to implement the changes.
It is expected that Democrats will take the issue to court with the argument that the administration is not authorized to make such changes.