A Bit of Good News: Wyoming & West Virginia kill Medicaid work requirements!
Amidst all the depressing news about various GOP states moving backwards on healthcare policy by gunking up Medicaid programs to add draconian work requirements, lowering the eligibility thresholds, stripping benefits and so forth, there were two positive developments in deep red territory last week, both relating to Medicaid work requirements:
A bill that sought to place work or other requirements on Medicaid recipients in West Virginia has died in the House of Delegates.
A House committee put the bill on its inactive calendar Wednesday, Feb. 27, the final day that legislation could be passed in their chamber of origin. The full House earlier Wednesday debated the bill but stopped short of voting on it, and did not take up the bill during a late evening session before adjourning.
The bill would have required able-bodied adults to work, participate in workforce training or community service, or attend a drug treatment or recovery program for at least 20 hours per week.
According to the Department of Health and Human Resources, about 159,000 West Virginians are enrolled in Medicaid expansion.
The Trump administration has allowed states to tie Medicaid coverage to work.
West Virginia was one of the first red states to embrace Medicaid expansion back in 2014, and to the best of my knowledge it's been quietly and wildly successful with no complaints to speak of. Trying to mess with it by adding a bunch of complicated (and expensive) administrative hoops just to kick thousands off their coverage was a terrible idea, and I'm glad to see that it's been shelved...at least for now.
Meanwhile, in Wyoming, a similar bill was also killed...and this one was even worse, since unlike West Virginia, Wyoming hasn't even expanded Medicaid in the first place...their work requirement bill would have applied to traditional Medicaid enrollees:
A bill that would have imposed a 20-hour work requirement on those who receive Medicaid has been defeated.
The House of Representatives voted 39-20 to kill the measure that would have removed health insurance if the requirements weren't met. It would have saved the state $5.6 million in Medicaid costs.
Gillette Representative Scott Clem said he disagreed with those who said the bill was trying to hurt people.
"I look at this as a compassionate bill that says we won't let you wallow in self pity, because that's not good for you."
Laramie Representative Charles Pelkey countered that if this population loses its health care coverage, costs go up for everyone because it will lead to an increase in uncompensated care.
It looks like around 60,000 Wyomingites (?) are enrolled in Medicaid in Wyoming...including the elderly, disabled, children, etc., who I certainly hope there would've been exemptions from the work requirement for. Sheesh. It looks like around 18,000 more would receive Medicaid coverage if the state went the other way and expanded the program via the ACA.
Anyway, credit to both WV and WY for...well, for shutting down an incredibly stupid and cruel idea...at least for now.