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Now that the Trump administration has approved work requirement waivers in two states—Kentucky and Indiana—as many as 11 more could follow.
State waivers that make employment a prerequisite for Medicaid enrollment are gestures of “true compassion,” according to Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“True compassion is lifting Americans most in need out of difficult circumstances,” Verma wrote in a column in The Washington Post published Monday that painted work requirements as poverty alleviation policies.
“Our nation should always give our utmost attention and care for Americans most in need.” Verma added. “As such, we must allow states, who know the unique needs of their citizens, to design programs that don’t merely provide a Medicaid card but provide care that allows people to rise out of poverty and no longer need public assistance.”
Eleven states are awaiting the Trump administration’s OK on their own work requirement waivers. Indiana became the second state to receive approval on Friday and the administration approved Kentucky’s request in mid-January. These approvals came on the heels of official guidance from the federal government that signaled the willingness to experiment with such waivers for the first time in the program’s half-century history.
The legal challenges to this move on the part of the Trump administration have already begun. Twelve days after Kentucky’s waiver was approved, 15 low-income residents of that state filed a class-action federal lawsuit contesting the action on both policy and procedural levels.
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Quinn Libson is a Staff Correspondent for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.