Director of the Health Integration Project
Washington State is about to implement its Medicaid waiver from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand services that help beneficiaries with significant physical or behavioral health conditions gain access to housing and employment. That waiver is a positive step forward because it will support work by giving Medicaid beneficiaries more tools to secure employment.
The move contrasts sharply with CMS’ announcement today that, in a harsh reversal of prior policy, it will let states require work as a condition of Medicaid eligibility. Rather than support work, such work requirements will do little to expand employment but, instead, will likely lead many beneficiaries to lose coverage and care, as we explain here.
These new supportive services under the Washington State waiver are voluntary, but most eligible beneficiaries will take advantage of them. The waiver provides:
Unlike CMS’ decision to allow work requirements, Washington State’s waiver shows that Medicaid can help people address their income, housing, and other life factors in ways that will improve their health outcomes.