States Are Reconsidering Restrictive Medicaid Waiver Policies

By Jessica Schubel: For More Info, Go Here…

New governors and legislatures in Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, and New Mexico are taking steps to protect access to health care for thousands of low-income Medicaid beneficiaries by reconsidering restrictive policies that their predecessors put in place through federal waivers, such as taking Medicaid coverage away from people who don’t meet rigid work requirements and imposing premiums and high cost-sharing.

Mounting evidence from Arkansas shows the disastrous impact that work requirements in particular have on coverage. Since Arkansas became the first state to implement Medicaid work requirements in June, more than 1 in 5 beneficiaries subject to the new policy have lost Medicaid and likely became uninsured. Many of those losing coverage are working people and people with serious health needs who can’t overcome the red tape that these policies create. In fact, the number of people losing Medicaid coverage exceeds the number of those that this policy presumably targets — that is, those not working or not exempt from the requirement.

In light of this and other evidence about the harm of restrictive waiver policies:

  • Michigan’s new Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, recently wrote to CMS expressing alarm that the state’s work requirement policy will cause between 61,000 and 183,000 Michiganders to lose health coverage. She noted that, in Arkansas, “many [enrollees] lost coverage simply because they had not heard or did not understand how to comply [with the requirement],” and that “Michigan’s statute is more sweeping than Arkansas’s waiver, threatening a broader range of adults with more exacting reporting demands.” State law requires Governor Whitmer to carry out the Medicaid waiver, but she urged the legislature to make changes that encourage work “without undermining the health or the finances of hard-working Michiganders.”

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