New CMS Guidance Will Reduce Access to Healthcare

Studies Show Almost All Able-Bodied Medicaid Enrollees Already Work or Care for Loved Ones

Statement of Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, in response to the guidance released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to states that it will approve 1115 waivers that include work requirement provisions: 

"Work requirement provisions are thinly veiled efforts to reduce the number of people who receive affordable and quality healthcare through Medicaid, including many with lung disease. Allowing states to include work requirements is contrary to the goal of Medicaid, which is to offer health coverage to those without access to care. Most people on Medicaid who can work do so, and for people who face major obstacles to employment, harsh requirements will not help to overcome them.

"The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that states would use work requirements to further reduce enrollment in Medicaid. In their work requirement proposals, many states acknowledged that they will reduce the number of people enrolled.  For example, Kentucky said its work requirement proposal for Medicaid would reduce enrollment by 95,000 Kentuckians. States also add new paperwork requirements – an additional hurdle for low-income, rural or low-literacy populations.

"A recent study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, looked at the employment status and characteristics of Michigan's Medicaid enrollees. The study found only about a quarter were unemployed (27.6 percent). Of this 27.6 percent of enrollees, two thirds reported having a chronic physical condition and a quarter reported having a mental or physical condition that interfered with their ability to work. Another analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the two-thirds of healthier and better educated Medicaid recipients are already working; and the remaining one-third are either ill, disabled or serve as a full-time caregiver to a family member.

"The Medicaid population is disproportionately impacted by lung disease – patients who need quality and affordable healthcare to manage their diseases. The American Lung Association urges CMS to reconsider this policy, which will result in taking away healthcare from Americans who need it the most."

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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