SPLC asks Alabama agency to withdraw Medicaid waiver

A well-known law center in Montgomery is asking the state to withdraw its request for a federal waiver to impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has asked the Alabama Medicaid Agency to withdraw its proposed Demonstration Application, which would add work requirements to certain people receiving Medicaid. The original application was announced earlier this year, and the state held an open-comment period seeking feedback. In June, a report showed more than 90 percent of those who sent comments opposed the plan.

According to a press release from the SPLC, the state has revised its proposal. “The primary change to the revised proposal is that the State has lengthened the amount of time beneficiaries qualify for Transitional Medical Assistance, from 6 months to 18 months. However, this change does nothing to address the root of the problem posed by proposed waiver,” SPLC Deputy Legal Director Sam Brooke said in a letter to the state agency.

The state announced earlier this year the new work requirements would apply to able-bodied recipients in a Medicaid category called Parents or Caretaker Relatives. Medicaid estimated about 17,000 people would be subject to the new requirements.

In June, a report from the Center on Budget and Policy said the proposal means many parents who follow the new rules and get jobs will still lose their Medicaid coverage, because their incomes will rise above the Medicaid eligibility level.

“Any parent or caretaker who tries to comply with the work requirement by working 20 to 35 hours per week at minimum or low wages will make too much money to qualify for Alabama’s Medicaid program, but too little to afford private insurance. In fact, the additional transitional coverage only delays the harm to Alabama’s caretakers who will be subjected to the new work requirement, without providing any meaningful relief to help them cope with the ultimate loss of their coverage. Thus, thousands of Alabama caretakers will still have their healthcare coverage taken away, threatening the wellbeing of their families and children,” Brooke said.

“If they work they lose coverage and if they don’t work they still lose coverage,” Judith Solomon, senior fellow for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said.

The work requirements would not apply to those who are disabled, pregnant, 60 or older, those taking care of a disabled person, those in a medical treatment program for addiction, single custodial parents with a child one year or younger, and single parents with a child under 6 for whom child care is not available.

Brooke continued, “In sum, the modest change included in the revised proposal does not address our original concerns about the Demonstration Application’s widening of the coverage gap for Alabama families.”

See the SPLC’s letter to the state below.

SPLC by Ivana Hrynkiw on Scribd

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