Which Poor People Shouldn’t Have to Work for Aid?

May 15, 2018, The New York Times, Emily Badger and Margot Sanger-Katz- What happens when the poor live where work is hard to find? In Michigan, the state’s Senate has passed a proposal that would exempt Medicaid recipients from a work requirement partly on the basis of geography - if they live in a county where unemployment exceeds 8.5 percent. Geography may seem a simple way to identify who faces barriers to work, but it’s also a crude one. The lines that policymakers draw risk embedding regional and racial biases about who counts as “left behind.” Michigan’s approach, critics point out, would mean that poor, mostly white rural counties are exempted, but not the predominantly black, economically troubled cities of Detroit and Flint. Those cities happen to be located within counties with low suburban unemployment, which brings the overall unemployment of the counties below 8.5 percent. There are similar demographic patterns in other states pursuing work requirements, including Kentucky, Virginia, and Ohio, where the rural areas most likely to qualify for exemptions tend to be disproportionately white.

Trump administration won’t approve lifetime limits on Medicaid

May 15, 2018, The Hill, Nathaniel Weixel- The Trump administration will not approve state requests to impose lifetime limits on Medicaid coverage, breaking with conservatives who have pushed for the strict limitation.“We’ve indicated we would not approve lifetime limits, and we’ve made that pretty clear to states,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said Tuesday. Speaking at a Washington Post event on health care, Verma did not give details about other decisions facing the administration, such as whether to allow work requirements in states that have not expanded Medicaid under ObamaCare, and whether to allow drug testing for Medicaid enrollees, as Wisconsin is proposing. When asked about drug testing, Verma said only that the administration wants to evaluate state goals on an individual basis.

One-on-One with Seema Verma, Administrator of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

May 15, 2018, The Washington Post, Paige Winfield Cunningham-The Washington Post’s Paige Winfield Cunningham speaks one-on-one with U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, who outlines her vision for Medicaid. In the interview, Verma discusses the administration’s rationale for rule changes allowing states to impose work requirements.

Organizers work toward ballot initiatives to push Medicaid expansion

May 14, 2018, McClatchy DC Bureau, Tony Pugh- Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion could become a major election issue again this year - at least in four states where supporters want to enact or continue the policy through ballot initiatives in the 2018 mid-term elections.
Organizers in Montana and Nebraska are collecting thousands of signatures to get the issue on the November ballot, while supporters in Utah and Idaho are awaiting final word from state officials who must validate and tally their petition signatures. Expanding coverage under Medicaid, the national health plan for low-income and disabled Americans, was a key component of the Affordable Care Act. The 2010 law originally required state Medicaid programs to extend coverage to all non-elderly people who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty limit beginning in 2014. States that didn’t comply would lose their federal Medicaid funding.

Trump Admin Poised To Give Rural Whites A Carve-Out On Medicaid Work Rules

May 14, 2018, TPM, Alice Ollstein- As the Trump administration moves aggressively to allow more states to impose mandatory work requirements on their Medicaid programs, several states have come under fire for crafting policies that would in practice shield many rural, white residents from the impact of the new rules. In the GOP-controlled states of Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio, waiver proposals would subject hundreds of thousands of Medicaid enrollees to work requirements, threatening to cut off their health insurance if they can’t meet an hours-per-week threshold. Those waivers include exemptions for the counties with the highest unemployment, which tend to be majority-white, GOP-leaning, and rural. But many low-income people of color who live in high-unemployment urban centers would not qualify, because the wealthier suburbs surrounding those cities pull the overall county unemployment rate below the threshold.

A near-universal health-care plan that wouldn’t break the bank

May 13, 2018, The Washington Post, Editorial Board- Since the day Obamacare passed, as Republicans have sought to sabotage it, Democrats have hoped for more. Their hopes have taken them ever closer to pushing a radical upending of the health-care system, exemplified in Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders’s plan for a European-style single-payer program, which a growing list of prospective Democratic presidential candidates has endorsed. But there are options that are neither as cruel as the GOP’s miserly repeal-and-replace nor as disruptive as the more sweeping left-wing proposals. In other words, they are compassionate and realistic. Economists at the Urban Institute, an independent research group, released on Sunday a proposal that would get the nation to near-universal health-care coverage and relieve many of the financial burdens some people face under the current system - and cost the federal treasury far less than more radical plans.