Senior Policy Analyst
For the first time, states will be able to require work or work-related activities as a condition of Medicaid eligibility, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma recently announced. Verma’s announcement followed a CMS change to the criteria for approving state Medicaid demonstration projects, known as waivers: they’ll no longer have to increase and strengthen coverage, but instead can “promote upward mobility”— a euphemism for work requirements.
Taking away health coverage won’t help people find and hold a job, research shows. Tying eligibility for Medicaid to work or work-related activities would likely mainly harm people who can’t work or can’t find work, leaving them without coverage, but it would likely affect coverage for some working beneficiaries, too:
Rather than undermining Medicaid through waivers that will prevent people from getting the care they need, CMS should work with states to invest in evidence-based employment services that help people find and hold jobs, while preserving their access to care.