Biden rescinds Trump-approved Medicaid work requirements in Michigan, Wisconsin

President Biden discusses his administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic at the White House
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President Biden this week rescinded former President Trump’s permission for Michigan and Wisconsin to institute work requirements for recipients of Medicaid.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent letters on Tuesday to public health officials in Michigan and Wisconsin announcing the administration will revoke its approval for mandates for Medicaid recipients to work, go to school or attend job training in order to receive the health care coverage. 

Biden’s team took away the federal approval for the requirements quietly for the Midwestern states after previously sending similar letters to Arkansas and New Hampshire.

The reversal comes after Trump’s CMS administrator, Seema Verma, advocated for Medicaid work requirements, saying such regulations would help people get out of poverty and not rely as much on the federal safety net. 

Nineteen states requested permission to implement the restrictions and 12 states were approved, including four set aside by courts, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The seven states still awaiting approval are not expected to get it under the Biden administration.

Biden’s CMS wrote to Michigan and Wisconsin that the work mandate did not align with Medicaid’s goal of helping low-income populations, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when millions of Americans are out of work. 

CMS officials also pointed out that most Medicaid recipients either do work or are exempt from work due to an illness or disability, so the policy would apply to few people.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) both are against work mandates. Their predecessors had requested the approval to institute the policy.

The president called for Medicaid work requirements to be reviewed through an executive order shortly after inauguration and informed states that were previously approved for these mandates that the federal government aimed to revoke the approvals in February letters. 

The February letters granted states 30 days to give information challenging CMS’s “preliminary” decision to revoke the permission for work requirements. This week’s letters said Michigan and Wisconsin did not provide additional information in response.  

The Supreme Court was initially supposed to listen to arguments over Medicaid work requirements last month but canceled them as the Biden administration considered getting rid of the policy.

Tags Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS Donald Trump Gretchen Whitmer Joe Biden Medicaid Medicaid work requirements Michigan Tony Evers Wisconsin Work requirements
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