Kentucky became the first state to implement work requirements for able-bodied adults after the Donald Trump administration approved their waiver.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said on Friday,
With federal approval of our Medicaid waiver, Kentucky will lead the nation in constructive changes to Medicaid. This marks the first significant change to a federal entitlement program in more than 20 years. The result will be a transformational improvement in the overall health of our people and will provide a model for other states to follow.
Aides to Gov. Bevin estimated that roughly half of 350,000 Kentucky Medicaid recipients already meet the new Medicaid requirements to work at least 80 hours per month, volunteer, or commit to job training. Under the waiver, Kentucky Medicaid recipients will have to submit documentation proving that they comply with the Medicaid work rules.
The Kentucky government suggested that with the Medicaid work requirements, they will save roughly $2 billion federal and state dollars over the next five years.
The Medicaid work requirements would only apply to able-bodied working age adults; Americans with disabilities, older Americans, children, and pregnant women would not have to comply with potential Medicaid work stipulations.
One Bevin staffer suggested that the state’s Medicaid rolls will be reduced by roughly 95,000 within the next five years because of the work requirements.
Gov. Bevin added that Kentucky’s Medicaid waivers serve as the terms under which the state can continue to maintain expanded Medicaid. Bevin signed an executive order directing Kentucky’s commissioner of Medicaid to take necessary actions to end Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion in case a court prohibits the state from implementing their Medicaid work requirement waiver.
CMS administrator Seema Verma, who worked with then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to reform the state’s Medicaid program, said, “This gives us a pathway to start approving waivers. This is about helping those individuals rise out of poverty.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that social safety net programs should lift people up rather than trapping them in a cycle of poverty.
“We should treat public assistance more like a trampoline than a hammock,” Walker explained.
Bevin added at a press conference on Friday, “Why should a working-age person not be expected to do something in exchange for what they are provided?”