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Press release
November 1, 2018

For Lack of Eight Dollars, Thousands Could Lose Health Coverage

Washington, D.C.— Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Wisconsin’s Medicaid Section 1115 waiver request. The approved waiver would allow the state to deny Medicaid coverage to otherwise eligible individuals who do not meet a work or community service requirement, complete a report on their health risks and engagement in risky health behaviors, or pay monthly premiums. 

The following is a quote from Eliot Fishman, Senior Director for Policy at Families USA:

“On the eve of a tightly contested gubernatorial election in Wisconsin, CMS approved the state’s politically-motivated Medicaid waiver request. This approval comes just a day after the nonpartisan Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) discussed recommending that CMS pause in approving any further Medicaid work requirement waivers.

“We fully support connecting people to work, but taking their health care away makes it harder, not easier, for people to find work. And that is in fact what this waiver approval will do. Individuals will have to provide proof of hours worked monthly and fill out health questionnaires before they can get or keep vital health insurance. As we’ve seen in Arkansas, where a work reporting requirement has resulted in thousands losing health insurance, work requirements are really paperwork requirements that make it harder for families to get and keep health coverage.

“The waiver imposes premiums for people below the federal poverty level. It is punitive and senseless to deny needed health care coverage to a person earning just $505 per month (50 percent of the federal poverty level) because they are unable to pay an $8 premium. Further, requiring people to complete a government questionnaire about their health behavior before they can get coverage is nothing but the government coming between individuals and their physicians.

“With this waiver, like the four several recent waivers approved before it, the Trump administration is putting up roadblocks that will make it more difficult for people to get health coverage, and is ignoring both the role that health coverage plays in allowing families to live full and productive lives and is in conflict with the very objective of Medicaid, which is furnishing health care.

“This waiver violates Medicaid law. Regardless of how many CMS approves, that does not change.”

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