Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Wants Stricter Medicaid Work Requirements

Work for Medicaid REUTERSJonathan Bachman
REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin will ask the Trump White House to impose stricter work requirements on Medicaid recipients.

Governor Bevin’s new plan would eliminate the planned phase-in period for work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries. Bevin will request a waiver from the White House that would require able-bodied adults without dependents to work at least 20 hours a week to qualify for Medicaid. Under Bevin’s updated plan, the work requirements would start as soon as the White House approves the waiver.

Kentucky’s waiver would also lock out Medicaid recipients for six months if they get a new job or a new salary without notifying the state. In the waiver, Medicaid recipients would have to pay a premium for Medicaid or pay a fixed amount every time they use Medicaid to visit a doctor.

The initial plan would have required recipients to start working at least five hours a week, increasing gradually to 20 hours a week after a year.

Bevin argues that adding work requirements to the Medicaid program could save Kentucky at least $2.4 billion over the next five years.

Kentucky submitted their Medicaid waiver program during the final months of the Obama presidency. Obama opposed work requirements for welfare However, the Trump administration might allow states to implement significant flexibility to how states manage Medicaid programs. Arkansas, Arizona, Indiana, Maine, and Ohio might also implement work requirements for Medicaid.

Tarren Bragdon, president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, said it is important “to think of Medicaid as not just a health-care program but also a welfare program. I think that’s where you see a lot of emphasis of work requirements within Medicaid.”

Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), another state leader seeking work requirements for Medicaid, 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.


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