January 12, 2018

Malloy says he won't impose work requirements on Medicaid

Connecticut will not impose a work requirement on Connecticut Medicaid recipients, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said, even as the Trump administration moved Thursday to allow states to do so.

"Connecticut remains committed to providing Medicaid for all those who qualify, because it's the right thing to do," Malloy said. "The fact remains that the majority of individuals on Medicaid are working people, or those that cannot work, such as seniors and people with disabilities."

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it would, for the first time, allow states to craft programs that would require Medicaid recipients to prove they are working, training for a job or volunteering in their communities.

Administration officials argue that the work requirements will strengthen the program and improve health outcomes by encouraging Americans to train for and seek out jobs.

But opponents of the move say it will leave more Americans without health insurance.

"No one should be fooled," Malloy said. "This decision by the Trump administration isn't driven by thoughtful policy consideration, and will cause real harm to families across the country."

About 760,000 individuals in Connecticut are enrolled in Medicaid, known as HUSKY in the state.

It is a joint federal-state program that provides health care to those who qualify, usually poverty-level women and children. But the Affordable Care Act allowed states to expand that coverage to single, childless adults who have higher incomes too.

There are more than 210,000 individuals enrolled in that expanded Medicaid program in Connecticut, known as HUSKY D.

While Malloy said he did not want to impose work requirements on state Medicaid beneficiaries, state budgetary pressures have provoked moves to trim the program.

Parents of children who qualify for Medicaid are eligible for coverage too. But the new budget caps eligibility for these parents at 155 percent of the federal poverty level, down from 201 percent.

That means that a parent with two children would only be eligible for the program if he or she earned $31,248 or less a year.

About 13,500 parents are slated to lose Medicaid coverage under the new state rules. Some lost coverage as of Jan. 1 but most, about 12,300, will lose it at the end of the year.

Connecticut's budget woes also prompted state lawmakers to seek cuts to the Medicare Savings Program, a program that gives Medicare recipients some additional medical help through Medicaid.

Low-income elderly and the disabled who are enrolled in Medicare receive help in paying for the program's co-payments, deductibles and prescription drug costs. Some also qualify for help in paying their Medicare B premiums.

The state budget cut eligibility for this help, which would affect more than 100,000 Medicare recipients in Connecticut. But, after an outcry over that rollback, state legislators approved a bill reversing those cuts on Monday.

Malloy, however, said he would veto the bill, which was approved in both the state House and Senate with veto-proof margins.

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