Making sense of the possible Medicaid work requirement

Medicaid has different rules from state to state. The eligibility requirements for Illinois residents may be different from those in New York or California. Each state can adopt laws to customize the Medicaid program to suit the needs of their people.

President Trump’s administration recently granted states a controversial new opportunity to change their Medicaid programs: a work requirement. This permits states to deny enrollment to “able-bodied” adults without a job (or equivalent). Officials contend that although this program originally protected disabled and elderly citizens, other adults increasingly rely on Medicaid. This is a major adjustment to the program’s foundation and some older adults may worry about how this will change their situation.

In short, elders need not worry about the possibility of a work requirement. The federal government put limitations on state work requirements, which include excusing elders from obligatory work. This means that even if Illinois decides to adopt this new eligibility rule, seniors and disabled residents will not have to find jobs to protect their healthcare.

Perhaps no Illinois resident has cause for concern at all. In fact, Illinois was not among the ten states that prompted this change through their formal requests to the federal government. State officials may still choose to adopt work requirements in the future, however.

The landscape of Medicaid and Medicare is constantly shifting. We will likely see further changes to these vital programs under the current administration in the coming years. While this change probably won’t affect your current Medicaid plan, it’s always best to stay on top of the political current.


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