In ‘Twisted’ Push, Trump Admin Encourages States to Impose Work Requirements for Medicaid

(COMMON DREAMS) Jessica Corbett, November 7, 2017 — In a move called “twisted” and “absolutely awful” by healthcare experts, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Seema Verma said Tuesday that the Trump administration will encourage states to force work requirements on people enrolled in Medicaid.

In a speech to the National Association of Medicaid Directors, Verma explained her approach to managing CMS, which emphasizes deregulation and transferring more control to the states. Verma vowed to fast-track approvals of states’ proposals for amending how they implement Medicaid and denounced the Obama administration’s rejection of work requirements for Medicaid recipients, promising to “approve proposals that promote community engagement activities,” which she defined as “working, volunteering, going to school, or obtaining job training.”

“Believing that community engagement requirements do not support or promote the objectives of Medicaid is a tragic example of the soft bigotry of low expectations consistently espoused by the prior administration,” she said. “Those days are over.”

New York Medicaid director Jason Helgerson said he was “shocked” and “appalled” by Verma’s “absolutey awful” speech. He told the Washington Post it was “completely reprehensible” for Verma to use the phrase “soft bigotry” to describe state programs that don’t impose extra requirements on low-income people who seek health insurance coverage through Medicaid.

Judy Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, called the statement “twisted,” and emphasized that Medicaid’s purpose is to enable low-income individuals to access healthcare.

Source: In ‘Twisted’ Push, Trump Admin Encourages States to Impose Work Requirements for Medicaid | Common Dreams