Work Requirements May Actually Be a Boon for Medicaid

January 29, 2018

In an ironic twist, the Trump administration's embrace of work requirements for low-income people on Medicaid is prompting lawmakers in some conservative states to resurrect plans to expand health care for the poor.

Trump's move has been widely criticized as threatening the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. But if states follow through, more Americans could get coverage.

"I think it gives us a chance," said Kansas state Rep. Susan Concannon, a moderate Republican who pushed unsuccessfully for Medicaid expansion last year in her state.

In Utah, the office of Republican Gov. Gary Herbert said the Trump administration's willingness to approve work requirements is one of several concessions the state would demand to cover more poor residents through Medicaid.

"Is it a big deal?" said Herbert spokesman Paul Edwards. "Yeah, I think it's a big deal."

Utah state Rep. Robert Spendlove, a Republican working on legislation to partially expand Medicaid, said the Trump administration has sent a positive sign. "I have a lot of confidence that they will be willing to work with us and approve this," Spendlove said.

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