December 14, 2021

Young, Braun, Romney, Blackburn, Hagerty, Inhofe Introduce Legislation to Empower State Innovation Within Medicaid Program

WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced the Let States Innovate Under Medicaid Act.

This legislation authorizes a framework to allow innovation under Section 1115 Medicaid demonstration project waivers. Specifically, it would include “work or community engagement requirements” as an acceptable practice that furthers the objectives of the Medicaid program, thereby prohibiting the CMS administrator from denying a 1115 waiver on the basis that work or community engagement requirements do not further the objectives of the Medicaid program.

“Medicaid should ideally be available as a temporary option, with a goal of preparing individuals for a life of dignity in the workforce. Work and community engagement activities, such as those that Indiana previously had in place, are designed to improve quality of life over the long term and help individuals transition to full employment. CMS’s decision earlier this year to revoke Indiana’s ability to set these expectations for some Medicaid recipients treats work as a punishment and discourages efforts to transition to self-reliance. That’s why I joined my colleagues to introduce the Let States Innovate Under Medicaid Act to allow states the opportunity to innovate under the Medicaid program, with the objective of preparing individuals for a life of independence in the workforce,” said Senator Young.

In February 2021, at the direction of the Biden Administration, CMS began efforts to withdraw work requirement waiver authorities in several states that had either been previously approved, or had a pending application, to implement work requirements. CMS is continuing to review some states’ work requirement waivers, but has already withdrawn waiver authorities in nine states— Indiana, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin.

Additionally, other states have voluntarily withdrawn work requirements from their waiver applications or have postponed the implementation of work requirements because of the uncertainty concerning Medicaid work and community engagement programs. CMS based its decision to withdraw waiver authorities in the nine states on the basis that “work or community engagement requirements” do not further the objectives of the Medicaid program.