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Experts Reveal How New Medicaid Overhaul Could Mean A Large Drop In People Covered

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the current administration is allowing states to make changes to their Medicaid programs. This is in contrast to the Obama administration, which required states to prove any changes would "increase and strengthen" healthcare for low-income citizens. Now, with a subtle shift in language, the states are welcome to pitch proposals that require drug testing, work requirements, volunteering, or entering a job training program for low-income people to qualify for benefits. 

In other words, if you want treatment, you can't just stay home and be sick. 

In a statement released Tuesday, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma said:

Every American deserves the dignity and respect of high expectations and as public officials we should deliver programs that instill hope and say to each beneficiary that we believe in their potential. CMS believes that meaningful work is essential to beneficiaries’ economic self-sufficiency, self-esteem, well-being, and health of Americans.

Translation: "We don't care how sick you are. Go get a minimum wage job."

Obama's administration denied requests from states trying to impose such barriers to Medicaid. 

Jessica Schubel, a senior adviser for CMS under Obama, said about the new policy:

I’m not sure how denying coverage for people based on their inability to find work really meets the objective of providing health insurance to low-income individuals.

The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study in 2017 and found that only 27 percent of people receiving Medicaid were adults without disabilities, and of that 27 percent, 60 percent were already working. Among the small remaining percentage, many people lived in areas with few job opportunities, cared for a family member, or faced some other "major impediment."


Alice Ollstein, reporting for Talking Points Memo, laid out the differences in wording between the Obama administration's HHS requirements and the proposed changes CMM is introducing.

Alice Ollstein for Talking Points Memo
Alice Ollstein for Talking Points Memo

Twitter users had some serious feelings about these changes:

Aisling E. McDonough, a former health insurance administrator at the CMS in Washington D.C., didn't care for this statement from Verma:

We will not just accept the hollow victory of numbers covered [in the Obama Care program], but will dig deeper and demand more of ourselves and of you.

McDonough took to Twitter to lay it all out:

via GIPHY

H/T:  Talking Points Memo, CNN Money