Medicaid changes should be carefully weighed

Louisiana is developing a proposal to impose work requirements on certain adult Medicaid recipients, as the Trump administration announced Thursday it will allow states to enact such provisions.

The details of what Louisiana is crafting — and how many low-income people in Louisiana’s $12.5 billion Medicaid program it would affect — aren’t clear.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said he wants the work requirements to be “reasonable,” with exceptions for people in school or training programs. He wants the requirements to target able-bodied individuals.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has to agree to enact such work requirements.

Critics of Medicaid work requirements say they can penalize poor people who may be unable to find employment and could lose life-saving health insurance.

The Louisiana Budget Project, which advocates for low- to moderate-income families, said many nonworking Medicaid recipients have circumstances that make it difficult for them to work. Bumping people out of the Medicaid program could end up driving up uninsured costs that fall on hospitals, health providers and the state, the organization says.

In Louisiana, Medicaid covers 1.6 million people, about one-third of the state’s population, including newborns, pregnant women, elderly nursing home residents, people with developmental disabilities and, through the Medicaid expansion, hundreds of thousands of working-age adults.

The federal guidelines say the administration would consider work requirements for “able-bodied, working-age” Medicaid recipients. States could require alternatives to work, including volunteering, caregiving, education, job training and treatment for a substance abuse problem.

The guidance said states should exclude pregnant women, disabled people and the elderly and take into account hardships for people in areas with high unemployment, or for people caring for children or elderly relatives.

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Posted by on Jan 17 2018. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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