Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker is waiting to hear if President Donald Trump's administration will let Wisconsin require childless adults on Medicaid to work, undergo drug screening and meet other requirements. 

Wisconsin is still waiting to see if the federal government will let it require childless adults on Medicaid to be screened for drugs and work if they are able.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration also asked in June to add premiums and co-pays for some adults without dependent children on Medicaid, which the federal government also must authorize.

The changes, which Walker said would help people move from public assistance to the workforce, can’t start until a year after approval by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.

“We are still in talks with CMS,” state Department of Health spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt said. “There is no timeline for approval.”

Donald Trump’s administration said last month it was planning to let Wisconsin and other states require able-bodied people on Medicaid to work or do other activities, such as train for a job or do community service.

“We see people moving off of Medicaid as a good outcome,” said CMS head Seema Verma.

So far, federal officials have approved a work requirement only in Kentucky, through what is called a waiver. A group of Kentucky residents sued, saying CMS had effectively rewritten federal law instead of letting the state test new ideas as allowed under the program.

“These new policies will definitely test the bounds of administrative discretion on how waivers can be used,” Robin Rudowitz, a Medicaid expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said Friday. “Throughout the history of waivers, the focus has generally been on expanding coverage to new people.”

Nationally, most working-age adults on Medicaid are already employed, according to Kaiser. Nearly 60 percent work full time or part time, mainly for employers that don’t offer health insurance.

Most of those who don’t work report illness, disability, care-giving responsibilities or going to school. Only 7 percent of Medicaid recipients would fall under the new work requirements, Kaiser found.

Under Walker’s proposal, childless adults on Medicaid would have to submit to a drug test or enter drug treatment if drug screening called for it.

Able-bodied people under 50 would lose coverage after four years if they didn’t work or do similar activities.

Nearly 148,000 of the 784,000 people on BadgerCare, Wisconsin’s main Medicaid program, are childless adults, who must make $12,140 a year or less to qualify. Nearly 1.2 million residents are on some form of Medicaid.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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