Washington, D.C. – Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approval of Indiana’s Medicaid waiver marks the second time the Trump administration has allowed a state to base Medicaid eligibility on work status or “community engagement” – unpaid ‘volunteer’ work. In addition, the waiver would lock Medicaid enrollees out of coverage if they are delayed in re-applying annually for Medicaid. Both requirements violate federal Medicaid statue. This action swiftly follows CMS’s January 12 approval of Kentucky’s waiver, which included strikingly similar barriers to health coverage. To see Families USA’s Medicaid Waiver Resource Center and Interactive Map please click here.
Following is the statement of Frederick Isasi, executive director for Families USA:
“Current law requires that Medicaid waivers may only be granted if they promote Medicaid’s objectives of providing health and rehabilitative services to enrollees. CMS is clearly now on a fast-track to approve waivers that violate Medicaid law — like basing eligibility for health insurance on work status.
“Health care coverage is foundational to the ability of families to be fully engaged in their lives and our society. Requiring proof of work in order for these families to get and keep coverage ignores the role that health coverage plays in allowing families to live a full and productive life. Regardless of how many of these waiver requests CMS approves, they represent a profoundly mistaken understanding of the role of health in families’ lives and violate Medicaid law; approval after approval will not change that.
“Changing Medicaid to put more barriers in the way of people who need health care runs counter to the program’s main goal: giving people health coverage. Requiring Indiana residents under poverty who rely on Medicaid for life-saving health care to prove employment or pay some of their meager annual income as a premium is heartless, punitive, and unlawful. These policies will have terrible consequences.
“New data from Indiana shows at a minimum tens of thousands of people lost their Medicaid coverage in 2015 and 2016 simply because they could not pay their premiums — these premiums would go up under this waiver. How many more families in Indiana and across the nation must lose health coverage because the Trump administration is illegally placing ideology over these families’ basic needs?
“This waiver continues a profound and deeply saddening departure from our nation’s commitment to the health of our families.”
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