COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Biden administration today overturned the Trump-era approval of Ohio’s Medicaid Work Requirement Waiver.
In a letter from The Department of Health and Human Services to the Medicaid director in Ohio, the administration wrote:
“… In light of the ongoing disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio’s community engagement requirement risks significant coverage losses and harm to beneficiaries.”
The letter goes on to explain that people who need help might be harmed. The COVID-19 pandemic means that people who might be looking for job skills training and work in the future might not be able to find it, and may also have problems with access to transportation and child care.
That means they might lose their healthcare coverage to circumstances beyond their control.
The agency believed it was risky to tie work requirements to Medicaid eligibility since no one knows what long-term effects the COVID-19 pandemic will have on the economy.
Also, the letter indicates, people who are dealing with COVID-19 infections and long-term illness as a result of the coronavirus might really be harmed by losing Medicaid benefits.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) agreed with the end of the policy. Brown said it had the potential to force thousands of people off of their health insurance coverage.
“We should be making it easier for Ohioans to access care, not harder – especially at a time when Ohioans are fighting against the COVID-19 global pandemic,” stated Brown in a media release. “Medicaid is a program that helps working families and burdensome work requirements create a barrier to health care for those who need it most, especially those who suffer with addiction.”
Brown says Medicaid is an essential safety net program, and the implementation of work requirements would have made it harder for Ohioans to access it in a time when overdose deaths are rising.
But, being in a recovery program is one of the requirements, as Gov. Mike DeWine (R) pointed out in a statement:
“By requiring an individual to work, learn new job skills, or be involved in a recovery program, Ohioans would be providing critical assistance to individuals when they needed it while laying the groundwork for their success in the future.”
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) also thought the work requirement was a good thing that should remain in place. He pointed out the waiver was approved by the Trump administration in March 2019.
“Work requirements provide much-needed flexibility in the Medicaid system to provide greater well-being and self-sufficiency to individuals who are able to work while slowing the growth rate of Medicaid and thus the burden on taxpayers,” Portman said in a media statement.