Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) on July 4, 2023, signed a two-year state budget that seeks to implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients.
The state budget requires the director of the Ohio Department of Medicaid to apply for a Section 1115 waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The waiver, if approved by CMS, would allow the state to establish Medicaid work requirements for able-bodied residents ages 55 and younger. Able-bodied adults without dependents under the policy would be required to work or study 20 hours per week to qualify for Medicaid benefits.
“Governor DeWine and our administration are supportive of work efforts, believing an individual’s active engagement in their own economic wellbeing is consistent with the program and furthers its objectives,” said Ohio Department of Medicaid spokeswoman Lisa Lawless, according to The Plain Dealer Cleveland.
Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit policy research group, responded to the Medicaid work requirement budget language, arguing in a news release, “The budget, as it stands today, would add new barriers, including an attempt to add a work requirement for Medicaid, which would limit Ohioans’ ability to get the health care assistance they need.”
The implementation of work requirements for Medicaid recipients in Ohio, as signed into law by Governor Mike DeWine, carries significant implications for the state’s healthcare system and its vulnerable populations. While proponents argue that the work requirements promote individual responsibility and economic self-sufficiency, critics, including Policy Matters Ohio, express concerns that these new barriers may limit access to essential healthcare assistance for those in need.
One of the major implications of the policy is that the work requirements may have unintended consequences for public health. If individuals are unable to meet the stipulated criteria, they may forego seeking medical attention until their health conditions worsen, leading to increased emergency room visits and higher healthcare costs in the long run.
Ohio will submit the Section 1115 waiver to CMS in February 2025.
The submission of the Section 1115 waiver to CMS iimplies that Ohio is seeking federal approval for the policy. The outcome of this application will have broader implications beyond Ohio, as it could set a precedent for other states considering similar work requirements for Medicaid.
Overall, the two-year state budget’s inclusion of Medicaid work requirements reflects an ongoing national debate on the role of welfare programs and individual responsibility. The success or failure of this policy in Ohio will be closely watched by policymakers and advocacy groups alike, as it has the potential to shape the future of Medicaid eligibility criteria and access to healthcare for millions of vulnerable Americans.
Produced in association with Ballotpedia
Edited by Suparba Sil
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