The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is granting waivers for states to establish work requirements for the able-bodied who receive Medicaid health care services. The requirements usually consist of community service, job training or schooling, if not outright employment.
The waivers are designed to control the costs of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) and to prevent fraud and abuse of the system. Some 15 million people have gained access to health care since the expansion began in 2014.
CMS has already granted waivers to Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. There are 10 other states with pending waivers.
A judge in Kentucky ruled against that state’s work requirement, but Kentucky submitted a second waiver request, which was granted. That plan will likely end up in court as well.
In Wisconsin, where a Democrat just unseated the incumbent Republican as governor, the Medicaid work requirement may soon be withdrawn.
While the expansion has increased health care access, Medicaid costs have been rising rapidly as a result. A study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) projects the program’s expenditures to rise at a 5.7 percent annual clip over the next decade, outstripping growth in the economy.