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Meetings to be held on Medicaid expansions waivers for work requirements

Posted: 2:53 PM, Aug 26, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-27 06:33:25-04

BOISE, Idaho — State officials are wanting to know what the public thinks about restrictions on certain requirements for people eligible for Medicaid.

The proposed waiver allows for people who are volunteering, working in the community or going to school to still be eligible for Medicaid.

“These new requirements will affect individuals eligible for the expansion adult group (an eligibility category not determined on the basis of a disability). Many individuals in the expansion adult group will be exempt from the requirement or are already meeting the requirements,” said Idaho Health and Welfare Department spokesperson Niki Forbing-Orr.

The Idaho Legislature outlined several factors that would exempt a person from the requirements.

Forbing-Orr said the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has included all such exemptions in its waiver application, including:

•An individual is younger than 19 and or older than 59 years of age.

•An individual is physically or intellectually unable to work (including individuals with mental health barriers).

•And individual is pregnant, a parent, or caretaker providing for a dependent younger than 18 years of age or for people with a serious medical condition.

•An individual is applying for or receiving unemployment compensation and complying with related work requirements.

•An individual is applying for Social Security disability benefits or is participating in a drug addiction or alcohol treatment and rehabilitation program.

•An individual is an American Indian or Alaska Native and is eligible for services through the Indian Health Service or tribal health program.

Several grassroots citizen groups, such as Close the Gap Idaho and Reclaim Idaho, are opposed to the work requirement changes.

"For people with disabilities, the proposed waiver will impose burdensome paperwork requirements to prove that they are disabled and exempt,” said Dina Flores-Brewer, Executive Director of Disability Rights Idaho. “Even once exempt, the burden of periodic reporting of work hours and possible fluctuations in the number of hours worked can put their medical coverage at risk."

“Idahoans with heart disease and other chronic conditions need access to consistent care” said Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “Losing coverage through a work reporting requirement would be devastating and life threatening to someone who needs regular medication, visits with their specialists, and access to health care. Taking these crucial support systems away from someone would not only make it impossible for them to hold down a job, it will make it difficult for them to survive.”

“This restriction to healthcare has nothing to do with whether Idahoans are working or not. It’s whether they fill out paperwork correctly. We’ve seen thousands of people in other states lose coverage because of this and Idaho is under the same threat,” said Luke Mayville, Co-Founder of Reclaim Idaho. “This reckless legislation will not only deny thousands of people healthcare they already qualify for, it will cost Idaho taxpayers millions of dollars to administer.”

Two meetings on the proposed waivers will be held next week.

The first will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 3, in the Lincoln Auditorium in the Idaho Statehouse.

The second will be held Friday, September 6, in the East Conference Room in the Joe R. Williams Building, 700 W. State Street in Boise.

Public comments will be accepted through September 22 of this year, and may be emailed to 1115.comments@dhw.idaho.gov or mailed to:

Attention: Cindy Brock
Medicaid Program Policy Analyst
Division of Medicaid
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0009