Mississippi revises proposal for Medicaid work requirement

Published 5:24 pm Sunday, July 8, 2018

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi is still seeking federal permission to set a work requirement for able-bodied people covered by Medicaid.

The state is revising its proposal.

Medicaid is a government health insurance program for the needy and disabled, paid by state and federal dollars.

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To qualify for Mississippi Medicaid, a single parent or caretaker must earn less than $384 a month. However, someone working 20 hours a week at minimum wage would earn $580 a month — not enough to afford private health insurance but too much to remain on Medicaid.

Under Mississippi’s new proposal, able-bodied Medicaid recipients who meet the minimum 20-hour-per-week work requirement would still receive Medicaid coverage for two years. An earlier proposal was one year of coverage.

Medicaid director Drew Snyder was asked in April about a one-year extension of coverage for Medicaid recipients who work and start earning too much money to remain on the program. He said they are not currently provided that protection.

“The Medicaid program is not designed to ensure that beneficiaries have health coverage for the rest of their lives,” Snyder said then.

The proposed work program would affect roughly 7 percent of all Mississippians on Medicaid. Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the U.S., and about 24 percent of all its residents are on Medicaid. Most of them are children.

Medicaid enrollment in June was 683,577. It has declined steadily since January, when it was 700,020.
Those exempt from the proposed work requirement include beneficiaries who have mental illness or physician restrictions, who are in school, or who care for someone who cannot take care of themselves.

The rest could satisfy the work requirement by working 20 hours a week, doing volunteer work, engaging with the Office of Employment Security or participating in alcohol or drug abuse treatment programs.

The Division of Medicaid estimates the work requirement would reduce the Medicaid rolls by 20,000 over the next four years.