Medicaid Work Requirement: Group Wants Indiana to Say No

Kentucky and Arkansas have tried it, and been stopped by a federal judge

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By Chris Davis | April 3, 2019

STATE HOUSE–You shouldn’t be punished for not working by having your Medicaid taken away away, says a group of faith leaders from across the state. Faith in Indiana is asking Gov. Holcomb to abandon any plans to make people prove they are working to be able to get government health care.

“I think everybody who can work should work. But, the way to get people into the workplace is not to motivate them by punishing them and taking away their health care. And, that’s what we’re fighting,” said Nicole MacLaughlin, Faith in Indiana leader, from St, Augustin Catholic Church in South Bend.

She said her group met this week with members of the state legislature to let them know they oppose such a move on moral grounds.

“Gov. Holcomb has proposed, and the Trump administration has approved a plan that would force those people to prove that they are working in order to deserve that care,” said MacLaughlin.

She pointed to similar plans in Kentucky and Arkansas, that have been stopped temporarily by federal judges in Kentucky and Arkansas.

“Lawsuits have been brought against them,” she said, urging the state to continue with the Hip 2.0 program, that MacLaughlin said has provided health care coverage to Hoosiers, who in some cases, had never had coverage.

She said a plan that forces people to prove they are working, to deserve health care, is problematic.

“Many of the people are vulnerable, are not in a space where they are able to work regularly. They work seasonal employment. They may have had to quit a job die to a health care problem, but they are not considered fully disabled.”

She said many Hoosiers may have mental health or drug abuse problems, and are unable to work, but still need diabetes or blood pressure meds.

In the Arkansas and Kentucky rulings, the judges said the states were not allowed to bend or shape the federal program, created by Congress, in any way they choose.

The federal government, and the Trump administration, defended their decision to allow states to introduce the Medicaid Work Requirement.

“We will continue to defend our efforts to give states greater flexibility to help low-income Americans rise out of poverty. . . . States are the laboratories of democracy and we will vigorously support their innovative, state-driven efforts to develop and test reforms that will advance the objectives of the Medicaid program,” said Seema Verma, administrator for Health and Human Service’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, a co-creator of the Hip 2.0 plan under then-governor Mike Pence.

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Faith in Indiana photo - leaders at Statehouse