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Kentucky becomes first U.S. state to impose Medicaid work provisions

From Reuters - January 12, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Kentucky on Friday became the first U.S. state to require that Medicaid recipients work or get jobs training, after gaining federal approval for the fundamental change to the 50-year-old health insurance program for the poor.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued policy guidance on Thursday allowing states to design and propose test programs with such requirements.

Kentuckys waiver, submitted for federal approval in 2016, requires able-bodied adult recipients to participate in at least 80 hours a month of employment activities, including jobs training, education and community service.

The Kentucky program also imposes a premium on most Medicaid recipients based on income. Some who miss a payment or fail to re-enroll will be locked out for six months. The new rules will take effect in July, Kentucky state officials said.

Kentucky will now lead on this issue, Governor Matt Bevin said at a news conference on Friday. They want the dignity associated with being able to earn and have engagement in the very things theyre receiving, he said of Medicaid recipients.

Democrats and health advocacy groups blasted the federal policy on Thursday, saying it would make it tougher for the most vulnerable Americans to have access to healthcare. The Southern Poverty Law Center liberal advocacy group said it planned to file a legal challenge.

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