Utah: #COVID19 accomplishes what decency and logic couldn't: Puts final nail in Medicaid work requirements coffin.
One by one, the dozen or so states which had either already implemented work requirement programs for Medicaid expansion enrollees or which were planning on doing so have either "delayed" or dropped those requirements entirely, either by force due to a federal judge ruling against them, or "voluntarily" due to them seeing the writing on the wall and realizing that a federal judge was going to rule against them in the near future.
Every state except one, that is: Utah.
Utah passed ACA Medicaid expansion solidly back in 2018...and they passed a "clean" version, which was supposed to mean anyone earning up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Line would be eligible, and the program wouldn't have any barriers or hurdles like work requirements and so forth.
The state legislators and governor ignored that second part, however, and passed a complicated law/waiver request mess which, when the legal and regulatory dust settled, ended up meaning that they did finally implement Medicaid expansion in the end...but it did indeed include a work requirement provision, effective January 1st.
...which, after an absurd year-long saga, ended up lasting all of three months before they pulled the plug on the work requirement part yesterday:
Utah on Thursday suspended its Medicaid work requirement due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It was the only remaining state with an active Section 1115 waiver imposing work requirements on Medicaid expansion enrollees as a condition of keeping their coverage. The suspension was decided on Thursday morning, said Kolbi Young, a spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Medicaid and Health Financing.
Utah expansion enrollees were required to fill out an online job readiness assessment and participate in an online training program. Then they had to complete 48 job searches in the first 90 days of their Medicaid eligibility.
But Medicaid advocates said the requirement, which they opposed all along, clearly was no longer viable with the collapse of the job market as a result of the pandemic, which has closed many businesses.
"During this time of increasing cases of COVID-19, a 'Stay Safe, Stay Home' directive, and rising unemployment, it is important that Medicaid members be able to continue their health coverage," said Utah Medicaid Director Nate Checketts. "Suspending the community engagement requirement during this state of emergency recognizes the unique challenges created by this public health crisis."
Utah's full Medicaid expansion took effect Jan. 1, 2020, covering an estimated 120,000 adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level.
How much money, energy, time and bad-faith arguments went into this absurd, pointless exercise over the past fourteen months?
Sheesh. Good riddance. It's a shame that it took a global pandemic to knock sense into some people's heads, but so be it.