- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2019

The Trump administration approved Arizona’s request to attach work requirements to Medicaid coverage, making it the eighth state to condition benefits on seeking a job, going to school or otherwise engaging in the community.

Enrolled members of federally recognized Indian tribes — who noted their sovereignty — will be exempt from the rules, which will take effect in January 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said.

“Medicaid demonstrations like this one empower states to provide health coverage to their citizens while allowing the states the flexibility to tailor their approach to their unique populations,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. “We have long stressed the importance of meaningful tribal consultation when states are contemplating program reforms, and I’m pleased with how this important process informed Arizona’s approach to amending its demonstration.”

Under the plan, able-bodied enrollees aged 19 to 49 must report monthly they are engaged in at least 80 hours of work or community activity. Pregnant women, the medically frail and people in drug-abuse treatment are exempt.

The Trump administration is actively encouraging states to apply work requirements to Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor, saying they will encourage people to lift themselves up and off the government dole.

Critics of the requirement say the Great Society program was set up to provide health coverage, period, not nudge people into jobs.

So far, CMS has approved work requirements in Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

Arkansas was the first to implement the rules. So far, more than 18,000 enrollees have been booted from the rolls for failing to comply with reporting rules.

Some Arkansas residents, including those removed from the rolls, are challenging the requirements in court.

The Kentucky rules are also being challenged in a separate lawsuit.

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