- The Washington Times - Friday, December 21, 2018

Michigan and Maine are allowed to impose work requirements on able-bodied Medicaid recipients, the Trump administration said Friday, meaning seven states now condition the health benefit on seeking a job, going to school or engaging in community service.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hailed the approval of both waivers as part of a “record year of supporting state innovation.”

The administration is a vocal champion of work requirements, saying they will prod people to wean themselves off taxpayer-funded benefits.

President Trump also is pushing to force more Americans to work as a condition of food stamps.

“We are dedicated to empowering states to better serve their residents through state-led reforms that improve health and help lift individuals out of poverty,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma wrote to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican. “Your efforts through this demonstration help us fulfill that promise.”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, echoed the administration’s belief that work requirements will lift people up and off the government dole.

“We can help people by supporting and encouraging them to stand on their own — allowing them to take charge of their financial independence,” Mr. LePage said.

The states join five others — Kentucky, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Indiana and Wisconsin — that have received approval for work requirements under Medicaid, though Kentucky’s plan is tied up in court.

Arkansas was the first to implement the rules. More than 12,000 people have been removed from the rolls for failing to comply.

Democrats and other critics of work requirements say the Arkansas experience confirms their worst fears about the rules.

They say many people on Medicaid already work and may be confused by the reporting requirements, resulting in the loss of coverage they should receive.

And they argue the Great Society program was set up to provide health coverage, period.

CMS’s approval of work requirements comes less than two weeks before a pair of Democratic governors-elect, Gretchen Whitmer and Janet Mills, replace Mr. Snyder and Mr. LePage, respectively.

Both incoming governors criticized the imposition of Medicaid work requirements during the campaign.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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