Louisiana Launches Pilot Work Promotion Program Instead of Punitive Work Reporting Requirements

Gov. John Bel Edwards in Louisiana should be commended. Not only did he fulfil a campaign promise to expand Medicaid to thousands of Louisianans, but now he has launched a positive work support pilot program for Medicaid beneficiaries. Positive work support initiatives illustrate there are better ways to assist Medicaid enrollees in improving their employment situations than implementing punitive, onerous, and costly work reporting requirements.

In announcing the new initiative, Gov. Edwards said, “Creating a program that is helpful but not punitive is something we have consistently been working on. State lawmakers came together and spoke loud and clear on this issue. And with the recent court decisions against the faulty design of similar programs in other states, we are even more convinced that this is the correct path take.”

Despite the recent court rulings vacating the waivers approved by CMS in Arkansas and Kentucky, CMS Administrator Seema Verma seems undeterred in continuing to approve work reporting requirements. Ohio received approval the day after the court rulings followed soon after by Utah’s approval. This brings the total to 10 states that have received CMS’s blessing to impose new red tape Medicaid eligibility restrictions that are administratively costly and result in significant coverage losses, as experienced in Arkansas where 18,000 enrollees lost coverage in 2018.

Subsequently, Maine Gov. Janet Mills declined to accept the waiver submitted by the previous administration. New Hampshire has begun implementation on its work reporting requirement, but it doesn’t go into effect until June 2019. Whether this comes to fruition depends on the outcome of yet another lawsuit on behalf of New Hampshire beneficiaries that would likely receive a similar ruling to that rendered for Arkansas and Kentucky.

Louisiana will pilot its program in Monroe and West Monroe served by two campuses of Delta Community College. Job training programs will include:

  • Certified Nurse Assistant (CAN)/Behavioral Health Technician (239 Hours)
  • Commercial Vehicle Operations (CVO) (160 Hours)
  • Environmental Services Technician (120 Hours)
  • Forklift & OSHA 10 (Wagner Special) (24 hours)
  • Mortgage Documents Specialist (18 Hours)

The overall goal of the pilot is to develop a work training promotion program model that can be customized by communities across Louisiana.

Tricia Brooks is a Research Professor at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families.