United States Supreme Court to hear Medicaid work requirements case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case about whether or not the Trump Administration can allow states to enforce work requirements on their Medicaid recipients.

We talked about the case and its ramifications, with Dr. Swapna Reddy, of ASU’s College of Health Solutions.

Back in 2018, the Trump administration stated that states could apply to set Medicaid work requirements on recipients, according to Reddy. With this plan in place, recipients who wanted to keep their Medicaid had to show that they were employed, volunteering or in a job training program. Some states allow attending school as an acceptable requirement.

Arizona was one of the 17 states in the United States who had their requirements approved or pending, according to Reddy. Arizona set the requirement that a recipient must be doing one of the aforementioned activities for about 80 hours a month in order to keep Medicaid coverage.

Supporters believe that recipients should be encouraged to transition to private medical coverage instead of remaining on Medicaid.

“The narrative is, if people want to be healthy, they need to have gained full employment,” Reddy said,  “and this is pushing bills on Medicaid to eventually become self-sufficient and hopefully not need Medicaid anymore.”

When looking at those on Medicaid, already 60 percent of the recipients were working, according to Reddy.

Critics believe the requirements put the cart before the horse.

“A counter-narrative [is that] you need to be healthy to be able to work,” Reddy said.

Many lower courts have debated this case, most deciding that this plan is counterproductive to the purpose of Medicaid.

“Medicaid was passed to increase coverage and access for very low-income folks in the U.S.,” Reddy said. “So what we’re doing here is essentially making it more difficult, many of the courts said, to receive Medicaid. […] That’s the narrative that has been winning in the courts.”

The case is set to be heard by the Supreme Court in early 2021.



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Swapna Reddy, ASU's College of Health Solutions

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