Senior Policy Analyst
New governors and legislatures in Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, and New Mexico are taking steps to protect access to health care for thousands of low-income Medicaid beneficiaries by reconsidering restrictive policies that their predecessors put in place through federal waivers, such as taking Medicaid coverage away from people who don’t meet rigid work requirements and imposing premiums and high cost-sharing.
Mounting evidence from Arkansas shows the disastrous impact that work requirements in particular have on coverage. Since Arkansas became the first state to implement Medicaid work requirements in June, more than 1 in 5 beneficiaries subject to the new policy have lost Medicaid and likely became uninsured. Many of those losing coverage are working people and people with serious health needs who can’t overcome the red tape that these policies create. In fact, the number of people losing Medicaid coverage exceeds the number of those that this policy presumably targets — that is, those not working or not exempt from the requirement.
In light of this and other evidence about the harm of restrictive waiver policies:
Restrictive Medicaid waiver policies don’t work, as evidence shows. Not only do they create significant coverage losses — the exact opposite of Medicaid’s primary objective of providing coverage to low-income people — but they also create barriers to accessing needed medical care. The new policymakers in Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, and New Mexico are right to reconsider these harmful policies.