Dems want GAO probe of new requirements to get Medicaid

Dems want GAO probe of new requirements to get Medicaid
© Greg Nash

Two key Democrats are calling for a federal investigation to find out how much it costs the federal government for states to add eligibility requirements to their Medicaid programs.

In a letter to the comptroller general, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — California monitoring 8,400 people for coronavirus | Pence taps career official to coordinate response | Dems insist on guardrails for funding Schiff presses top intel official to declassify part of report on Khashoggi killing Top Trump advisers discuss GOP need to act on health care at retreat with senators MORE (Ore.) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (N.J.), call for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation of the requirements, which are becoming increasingly common under President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

“If CMS continues to approve work requirements and other restrictions on Medicaid, the consequences could be severe for federal spending and the sustainability of the Medicaid program,” write Wyden and Pallone, the ranking members of congressional committees with jurisdiction over Medicaid.

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 The lawmakers noted that Kentucky is estimated to need $374 million over the next two years alone— mostly in federal dollars—  “to add work requirements and punitive lockouts to its Medicaid program.”

“The public should have complete information about the consequences of proposed Section 1115 waivers to ensure limited taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently, appropriately, and towards the goal of promoting, not obstructing, access to health care,” Pallone and Wyden wrote.

The Trump administration has been approving waivers for states to impose policies like work requirements, lock-out periods, premiums and cost sharing on Medicaid beneficiaries, a sharp departure from the Obama administration. 

To date, Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas have been given the green light from the administration for such policies, and more states are awaiting approval.