Want Health Care in Arkansas? Find a Job

June 24, 2018, The Atlantic, Olga Khazan- Arkansas just became the first state to implement work requirements for its Medicaid program. Similar Medicaid waivers have been approved for three other states, and seven more are pending, spurred in part by the Trump administration’s guidance last year. Now, if able-bodied adults on Arkansas’ Medicaid rolls don’t go to work, study, or volunteer for 80 or more hours a month, they will lose their health insurance coverage in three months. A study by the Urban Institute in May estimated that, this year alone, 22,000 people, or 8 percent of Arkansas’ Medicaid population, could be subject to the work requirements and are not working.The work requirements reflect the view, among some conservative health-policy experts, that people should be encouraged to get jobs and get off Medicaid. Many liberals, meanwhile, feel that revoking health insurance is a harsh punishment for what could amount to a lack of skills, transportation, or knowledge. Three consumer advocacy groups, in fact, sued the Trump administration to stop the work requirements.

S.C. Medicaid agency wants to add work requirements, child advocate calls proposal ‘cruel’

June 24, 2018, The Post and Courier, Lauren Sausser- As the South Carolina Medicaid agency moves forward with a proposal to impose work requirements on low-income adults, child advocates worry the plan will hurt parents and families. But Medicaid Director Joshua Baker, who previously served as former Gov. Nikki Haley’s deputy chief of staff, argued the federal government will not approve a plan that would penalize an adult for becoming employed. That isn’t the state’s intention, he said. Baker confirmed his department is negotiating with the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to draft a plan that would require adults on Medicaid to work at least 80 hours per month. Before any such plan would take effect, the proposal would be subject to months of an “extremely robust” public comment period, he said. hose public comments then become part of the state’s formal federal application.

Michigan governor signs controversial Medicaid work requirement bill

June 22, 2018, The Hill, Peter Sullivan- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) on Friday signed a bill to impose controversial work requirements on Medicaid recipients. If the plan is approved by the Trump administration, Michigan would become the fifth state to add work mandates to its program. In January, Trump officials released their guidelines for work requirements on Medicaid, a move that has drawn a sharp outcry from Democrats who say the change will lead to people losing health coverage. Michigan expanded Medicaid through ObamaCare under Snyder, but he is now proposing to add work requirements for those enrolled under expansion, about 670,000 people. There are exemptions including for people who are disabled, pregnant, children or elderly. Those who do meet the requirements will have to work for 80 hours per month or be in school, job training or substance abuse treatment.

House overwhelmingly passes final opioid package

June 22, 2018, Politico, Brianna Ehley- The House on Friday overwhelmingly passed sweeping bipartisan opioid legislation, concluding the chamber’s two-week voteathon on dozens of bills to address the drug abuse epidemic. The measure combines more than 50 bills approved individually by the House focusing on expanding access to treatment, encouraging the development of alternative pain treatments and curbing the flow of illicit drugs into the U.S. It was passed 396-14, with 13 Republicans and one Democrat voting against the package. Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) called the legislation, which largely originated in his committee, “the biggest effort Congress has ever undertaken” to address the opioid epidemic. Democrats and anti-addiction advocates criticized the effort for not including more resources, but still supported the legislation.

Promises Made To Protect Preexisting Conditions Prove Hollow

June 22, 2018, Kaiser Health News, Jay Hancock, and Rachel Bluth- Senate Republicans praised the Affordable Care Act replacement bill they presented Thursday as preserving coverage for people with cancer, mental illness and other chronic illness. But the legislation may do no such thing, according to health law experts who have read it closely. Built into the bill are loopholes for states to bypass those protections and erode coverage for preexisting conditions. That could lead to perverse situations in which insurers are required to cover chronically ill people but not the diseases they suffer from. Depending on what states and governors do, plans sold to individuals might exclude coverage for prescription drugs, mental health, addiction and other expensive benefits, lawyers said. Maternity coverage might also be dropped. Somebody with cancer might be able to buy insurance but find it doesn’t cover expensive chemotherapy. A plan might pay for opioids to control pain but not recovery if a patient became addicted. People planning families might find it hard to get childbirth coverage.

White House releases sweeping proposal to reorganize government

June 21, 2018, The Hill, Peter Sullivan- The White House on Thursday unveiled a sweeping plan to reorganize how the federal government is structured, including controversial proposals to impose work requirements on assistance programs. The plan touches a wide range of agencies, but one of its main proposals is to move the food stamp program, officially known as SNAP, out of the Department of Agriculture and into the Department of Health and Human Services. That department would then be renamed the Department of Health and Public Welfare. A new Council on Public Assistance would then oversee programs gathered in one place, including food stamps and Medicaid, and have the power to impose uniform work requirements in those programs, a move strongly opposed by Democrats.