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Capitol Correspondence - 12.17.19

Medicaid Work Requirements: SC Says Yes, KY Says No

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ANCOR has long voiced concerns that Medicaid work requirements could have adverse effects on people with disabilities and the workers who support them with their everyday lives in the community. This week we saw two states take different approaches to the issue:

Following its 2019 gubernatorial election, Politico Pro reports that “Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is planning to nix the state’s Medicaid work requirement today, making good on a campaign pledge to throw out a program enacted by his Republican predecessor, according to three sources with knowledge of the forthcoming announcement.

Kentucky’s work rules were the first ever approved by the Trump administration as it works with conservative states to overhaul the massive health care entitlement program. The state’s rules, however, have been blocked amid ongoing litigation from legal aid groups and never took effect.

Beshear, a Democrat who was previously the state’s attorney general, narrowly won the gubernatorial election last month after campaigning heavily on health care and public education.”

Meanwhile, Politico Pulse reports: “SOUTH CAROLINA SET TO GET MEDICAID WORK REQUIREMENTS — The state, which has not adopted Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, would be the first to levy work rules solely outside the expansion population — a notable contrast from other Republican-led states that have generally targeted the requirements for poor adults without children, Pro’s Rachana Pradhan reports. Gov. Henry McMaster will announce the plan today alongside Verma at a workplace development center in Greenville.

South Carolina’s plan proposes to expand Medicaid benefits to low-income parents earning up to the federal poverty line, increasing the qualifying income threshold from the state’s current level of 67 percent of the poverty line. The proposal applies work rules to that population unless an enrollee gets an exemption — including being pregnant, going through treatment for alcohol or substance use disorders, having a disability, or being a primary caregiver of a child or a disabled person. Notably, the state’s proposal separately seeks to expand Medicaid benefits for pregnant enrollees so that individuals remain covered for one year after giving birth.

The waiver approval could be a bright spot for Verma and other Republicans after work requirements experienced several recent setbacks. Litigation has blocked a handful of states’ programs; other states have either decided to put their programs on hold or — in the cases of Virginia and Kentucky — made it clear the rules won’t be implemented.”