Trump Administration Reacts to Maine Medicaid Expansion Vote

Nov. 7 voters in Maine voted 59 percent to 41 percent to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to cover people under age 65 with incomes no greater than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

The vote could foreshadow similar votes in some of the other 18 states that haven’t expanded the largest government health-care program, which covers about 75 million people. Kansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Idaho have all seen strong pushes to try to approve Medicaid expansion, and Utah also has an initiative in the works to get a Medicaid expansion vote onto its ballot.

In the meantime, the Trump administration is signaling that it is open to states adopting work requirements for able-bodied people in Medicaid.

At a recent breakfast briefing in Washington I attended, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma talked about the administration’s plans for waivers requiring such “community engagement” activities, which could include job training, going to school, or volunteer work.

Asked if the administration was OK with states such as Maine expanding the program without a waiver, Verma said the administration won’t try to impose requirements on states unless states request them.

“We think it’s important for states to figure out what’s going to work best for them,” Verma said.

Verma was also asked if it would be acceptable for states to kick people out of Medicaid if the beneficiaries didn’t follow a state’s work requirements. States would be allowed to do that, she answered.

“The idea here is very similar to what we’ve seen in welfare reform” under President Bill Clinton, Verma said. Welfare reforms enacted during that administration resulted in fewer people on welfare and more of them moved into a job, she said.

Read my full article here.

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