The Nation’s Health
By: Kim Krisberg
In January 2018, federal officials released guidance on instituting Medicaid work requirements — an unprecedented move for the low-income health program. A year later, work requirements are pending or approved in more than a dozen states, advocates are fighting the rules in court and thousands have lost health coverage.
Central to both lawsuits are arguments that work requirements violate the statutory intent of Medicaid, which is to provide medical care to people who cannot afford it. Health and medical groups, such as the American Medical Association and American Academy of Family Physicians, have also come out in opposition to Medicaid work requirements, citing detrimental effects on access to care and the health of already-vulnerable populations. “This is an unprecedented and likely illegal approach to the Medicaid program,” Joan Alker, MPhil, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, told The Nation’s Health. “The Medicaid program is not a job training or support program. It provides health insurance to vulnerable people — that’s its mission.”
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