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Fall 2021  Volume 14, Number 3        

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Medicaid Work Requirements Slowly Being Phased Out

As the Biden Administration rescinds the Trump requirement that adults who receive Medicaid must work, several states with must-work provisions have seen their waivers withdrawn.

Medicaid is a government health insurance program for millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities. Medicaid sends payments directly to health care providers for medical services provided in a home or in a residential care facility that takes Medicaid residents. Medicaid is funded jointly by states and the federal government.

States that received waivers to implement work requirements in their Medicaid program include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Maine, North Carolina, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin.

However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) informed several states that the Medicaid work requirements do not promote the objectives of the Medicaid program and must end. Those states are Arkansas, Michigan, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. More revocations could follow.

HHS officials reasoned that requiring poor adults to work as a condition of receiving health care would likely decrease Medicaid enrollment without increasing employment.

Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, said that research shows that Medicaid work requirements haven’t encouraged participants to be employed. The requirements have only been effective in kicking people off coverage.

“The unwinding can’t happen overnight,” she added, “but the outcome is clear — states will not be kicking people off coverage for non-compliance with work requirements during the Biden administration.”

For instance, about 80,000 individuals in Michigan who receive Medicaid could have been in danger of losing their coverage.


Not all the states are on board with the changes. Arkansas and New Hampshire filed a lawsuit testing whether work requirements in their Medicaid programs are permissible under the Social Security Act. The Supreme Court was set to review the case but it appears that the case may be dismissed.

The Biden administration has asked the court to remand the cases to the HHS without issuing a ruling, but Arkansas has asked the court to keep the case and issue a ruling. Georgia also has indicated a willingness to go to court to defend its Medicaid work requirements.

Your Options

If you need to apply for Medicaid and are currently living in a state where the work requirements still are in effect, keep in mind that the requirements will differ from state to state. For instance, work requirements should only be considered for able-bodied candidates, but there is no set definition.

The definition of work also varies from state to state. Work sometimes can include activities such as caregiving and volunteering.

The number of hours an individual on Medicaid is required to work varies. For instance, Indiana requires up to 20 hours per week; Alabama, Idaho and Mississippi require 20 hours of work per week; and Utah three consecutive months of job search/training unless they are working 30 hours per week.


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In this issue:

This Just In...

The High Cost of Not Having a Financial Planner

How to Determine How Much You’ll Need in Retirement

Medicaid Work Requirements Slowly Being Phased Out

The Financial Challenges of Being on Disability


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