After the Trump administration approved stricter work requirements for Medicaid enrollees in Maine and Michigan, the administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) praised the decision in a celebratory tweet, declaring that “Christmas came early.”
The CMS sleigh has made deliveries to Kansas, Rhode Island, Michigan, & Maine this week to drop off signed #Medicaid waivers. Christmas came early for these Governors & we are proud to support local innovation all across this great country!
— Administrator Seema Verma (@SeemaCMS) December 21, 2018
“The CMS sleigh has made deliveries to Kansas, Rhode Island, Michigan, & Maine this week to drop off signed #Medicaid waivers,” Seema Verma tweeted. “Christmas came early for these Governors & we are proud to support local innovation all across this great country!”
CMS approved the requests to add work requirements on Friday — ahead of each of those states swearing in a Democratic governor and after support from the current Republican governors. The new requirements were opposed by the Democrats.
Under Obamacare, states were permitted to expand Medicaid coverage to people making less than $17,000 a year even if they didn’t work.
Under the new plan, however, Medicaid enrollees will have to spend at least 80 hours a month working, volunteering or taking classes in order to continue receiving their government benefits. Caregivers and those being treated for addiction, however, are exempt.
President Donald Trump and his administration see the requirements as a way to raise people out of poverty and dependence on government programs. Critics, however, worry people will struggle to keep up with reporting their work, a problem that led to 17,000 people in Arkansas losing insurance.
The new plans from Maine and Michigan are similar to plans in five other states, including Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. Several other states are waiting to join the list as well.