Blackburn, Young, Romney Unveil GOP Bill to Update Certain Medicaid Waivers

U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Todd Young (R-IN) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) recently joined several other Republicans in introducing legislation that would allow a framework for innovation under waivers to Section 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Project.

Specifically, the Let States Innovate Under Medicaid Act, S. 3332, sponsored on December 7 by United States Senator Mike Braun (R-IN), would include “work or community engagement requirements” as an acceptable practice that promotes the goals of the Medicaid Program, according to a summary of the bill provided by lawmakers.

In turn, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) would be prohibited from denying an 1115 waiver on the grounds that work or community engagement requirements do not advance the goals of the Medicaid program, the Medicaid program said. abstract.

“The policies of the Biden administration are motivated by top-down federal government overreach, and their approach to Medicaid will only further this agenda,” said Senator Blackburn, the initial principal cosponsor of S. 3332. “Their policies will mean less flexibility for states like Tennessee to care for the most vulnerable populations, including the poor and people with disabilities.

The bill’s introduction follows an action in February by the Biden administration that ordered CMS to withdraw exemption powers from work requirements in several states that had previously been approved or had a pending application, on on the basis that the demands of work or community engagement do not advance the goals of the Medicaid program, according to information provided by senators.

CMS continues to review exemptions from certain state labor requirements, but has already withdrawn exemption permits in nine states. Other states have voluntarily removed work requirements from their exemption requests or have postponed implementation of work requirements due to uncertainty regarding Medicaid’s work and community engagement programs, according to reports.

“Medicaid should ideally be available as a temporary option, with the goal of preparing individuals for a dignified life in the workforce. Work and community engagement activities, such as the ones Indiana had previously put in place, are designed to improve long-term quality of life and help individuals make the transition to full employment, ”said Senator Young. “CMS’s decision earlier this year to revoke Indiana’s ability to set these expectations for some Medicaid recipients treats work as punishment and discourages efforts to transition to self-reliance.”

If enacted, Section 3332 “would allow states the opportunity to innovate within the Medicaid program, with the goal of preparing individuals for an independent life in the workforce,” said Senator Young.

“This legislation will give states like Utah more freedom and flexibility to best manage their Medicaid program, help people seek community engagement opportunities and continue to provide health coverage to those who depend on it,” he said. added Senator Romney.

Section 3332 has been referred for review to the US Senate Finance Committee.

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