GOP Medicaid work rules imperil care for opioid abusers

December 3, 2017, POLITICO, Rachana Pradhan and Brianna Ehley- Red states ravaged by the opioid crisis are pushing for Medicaid work requirements that could push people out of treatment as they try to get off drugs. Kentucky, New Hampshire, Maine and Indiana are among at least eight GOP-led states seeking federal approval to require Medicaid enrollees to work as a precondition of their health coverage. All four states have been hard hit by drug addiction, which claims 140 lives a day nationally. Governors say they would exempt people with chronic drug problems or severe mental illness from the Medicaid work requirements, but who would qualify and under what circumstances hasn’t been spelt out. Critics fear that many addicts could lose benefits, particularly if they go in and out of treatment, or have relapsed - a not uncommon occurrence. Employers’ resistance to hiring people who have failed drug tests or have criminal records could also put health benefits at risk.

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