Michigan, Alabama apply to implement Medicaid work requirements

Two more states have applied for waivers from HHS to implement work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries.

Michigan, which has already approved a law to implement work requirements, has requested federal permission to get its program underway. The program would require certain Medicaid beneficiaries to work at least 80 hours per month and report their hours to maintain healthcare coverage.

Similarly, Alabama recently applied for a waiver on the same day as Michigan, Sept. 10. Alabama originally applied for the waiver July 31, but revised its proposal under the direction of CMS.

If approved, Michigan and Alabama would join 11 other states with a work requirement program. The new policy, which was only allowed by the Trump administration beginning earlier this year, has been met with controversy as opponents argue the rules will kick vulnerable people off essential healthcare coverage.

A pair of recent studies also concluded the savings to Medicare would be minimal, though millions would lose insurance.

In Arkansas, which began its work requirement program in June, thousands of beneficiaries already lost insurance coverage for failing to report hours worked. HHS is facing lawsuits from healthcare advocacy groups over approvals of the policy. Kentucky, which was granted approval for a work requirement program, saw its policy blocked by a federal judge earlier this summer.

Despite these legal hiccups, the Trump administration has pressed on with allowing the policies to move forward.

Michigan is aiming to start its program in 2020. Alabama, which did not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, has proposed implementing the requirements for nearly 75,000 beneficiaries.