CMS urged to 'hit pause button' on Medicaid work requirements

A congressional advisory panel is urging CMS to slow up on the approval and implementation of state Medicaid work requirements until more data has been collected about the effects of such programs, according to Bloomberg BNA.

The Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission warned that Arkansas' work requirements, the first such requirements instituted in the U.S., are flawed and have ousted 8,500 out of 73,266 Medicaid enrollees since this summer. MACPAC said the state should pause its requirements and raise greater awareness among Medicaid recipients, and also reconsider its requirement to self-report work hours online in a state with limited internet access.

"Let’s do it right,” said MACPAC Commissioner Christopher Gorton, MD. "Let’s hit the pause button, not forever or in response to what we’re seeing in Arkansas, simply because we’re not ready to dance here."

Indiana and New Hampshire  also have received approval to initiate work requirements, while 11 other states have pending requests. Though MACPAC wants to start the program more slowly, HHS officials stand by their commitment to Medicaid work requirements.

"We think it’s not only an effective flexibility tool, but it also represents something we hold very dear, which is giving individuals the opportunity, or perhaps the nudge they may need within their communities, to continue personal betterment and advancement,” said Jim Parker, director of the HHS Office of Health Reform.

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