October 31, 2018

MACPAC wants Trump admin to pause on Medicaid work requirements

Daily Briefing

    Members of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) on Thursday said they plan to send a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar urging the Trump administration to delay approving states' requests to implement Medicaid work requirements.

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    According to Bloomberg Law, MACPAC members said the federal government should take more time to improve its evaluations and oversight of Medicaid work requirements before approving any new waiver requests. For instance, the commission said the federal government should look more closely at outreach efforts intended to inform beneficiaries of the requirements.

    The letter also will urge the federal government to make Arkansas—the first state to implement Medicaid work requirements—slow down the implementation and establish more safeguards to protect beneficiaries from losing coverage. MACPAC said holes in the way Arkansas is implementing the requirements, as well as the short time frame in which Arkansas launched the requirements, has made it difficult for affected beneficiaries to comply. As of this month, about 15,000 Arkansas residents have lost Medicaid coverage because they failed to comply with the state's work requirements.

    MACPAC Chair Penny Thompson said the move is rare for the commission. "We don't typically send such letters," she said.

    But MACPAC Commissioner Christopher Gorton said the commission believes states could benefit from having more time to examine data on Medicaid work requirements before implementing them. "Let's do it right," he said, adding, "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" (Pelham, Bloomberg Law, 10/25; Porter, HealthLeaders Media, 10/26; Romoser, Inside Health Policy, 10/26 [subscription required]; Vartorella, Becker's Hospital Review, 10/29).

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