Let the Data Speak for Itself: The Relationship Between Work and Health

Both before and after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) policy reversal on work requirements, stakeholders have debated whether employment leads to improved health outcomes. CMS and states that have implemented or are trying to implement work requirements argue they do, while others disagree. The recent research of the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), a nonpartisan organization, illuminates what the data says on the relationship between work and health. This piece provides a recap of KFF’s findings.

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CMS cautions non-expansion states about Medicaid work requirements

CMS Administrator Seema Verma is worried about a “subsidy cliff” in states that have not expanded Medicaid but are seeking to implement Medicaid work requirements.

The cliff impacts those who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to receive government subsidies. Verma is worried that if states without expanded Medicaid programs require recipients to get jobs, the added income will push them into this grey zone, leaving them without coverage.

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Trump Administration releases guidance on Medicaid work requirements

What happened?  

In a major shift that could affect millions of low-income people receiving benefits, The Trump Administration announced Thursday, January 11, that it will open the door for states to require work requirements for Medicaid recipients.  

The guidance was published in a letter from CMS Deputy Administrator Brian Neale to State Medicaid Directors Thursday morning. In the letter, Deputy Administrator Neale stated that the move would help “improve Medicaid enrollee health and well-being through incentivizing work and community engagement.” 

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CMS signals support for Medicaid work requirements

Earlier this month, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Seema Verma, made an announcement conveying that CMS would approve waiver applications from states that would require Medicaid enrollees to participate in “community engagement” activities, otherwise known as work requirements. This follows a letter co-authored by Verma that encouraged state Medicaid directors to use these waivers to modify their Medicaid programs to empower consumers. To advocates, work requirements are a way to empower Medicaid enrollees by encouraging them to be independent, self-sufficient consumers of healthcare.

Here’s what you should know about the proposed work requirements for Medicaid:

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