Indiana Suspending Work, Volunteer Requirements for Medicaid Recipients

Federal courts have blocked President Trump’s administration from allowing similar requirements in other states.

By John Herrick and Eric Berman | 93.1FM WIBC Indianapolis
Nov. 01, 2019

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STATEWIDE– People on Medicaid in Indiana will not have to work or volunteer in order to get their benefits while a federal lawsuit challenging that gets worked out.

On Thursday, the state’s Family and Social Services Administration said, for the time being, it’s not going to enforce rules that would have required 20 hours of work, study, or volunteering a week to stay Medicaid eligible.

That’s in response to a lawsuit that was filed in September against Indiana’s plan. Federal courts have blocked President Trump’s administration from allowing similar requirements for Arkansas and Kentucky.

“We remain committed to operating the Gateway to Work program and to continuing to build on the early successes of the program, through which HIP members are reporting successful engagements in their workplaces, schools, and communities,” Indiana Medicaid Director Allison Taylor said.

Indiana adopted a somewhat gentler version of work requirements than some other states. The first people were to have been at risk of losing benefits in January.

Governor Holcomb says he still believes getting people into work will make them healthier too. And he says the requirement is a way to get more people job training to help fix the state’s worker shortage. But Holcomb says he doesn’t want anything to jeopardize the changes over the long haul, though he’s not elaborating on how going forward would endanger the program.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar joined Holcomb in Indianapolis in February to personally announce federal approval of the proposed work requirement. The National Health Law Program charges the Trump administration is trying to rewrite the Medicaid law without going through Congress. The organization argues the Medicaid Act allows waivers of the standard rules only for changes which expand health coverage. Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration estimates 6% of HIP enrollees — about 24,000 Hoosiers — will lose coverage if the requirement takes effect.

The group Faith in Indiana had previously asked Governor Holcomb to abandon any plans to make people prove they are working to be able to get government health care.

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Faith in Indiana photo - leaders at Statehouse