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Wisconsin further delays Medicaid work requirement for childless adults

Wisconsin further delays Medicaid work requirement for childless adults

Wisconsin Capitol

Wisconsin’s work requirement for childless adults on Medicaid, initially scheduled to begin Nov. 1 and delayed until Thursday, has been postponed again — with a new requested start date of April 29.

Premiums and some other stipulations adopted by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and approved by President Donald Trump’s administration are set to begin Saturday.

Ten states have had Medicaid work requirements approved, but federal courts have blocked the measures in Arkansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Indiana and Michigan have implemented the program but face legal challenges and have had delays. Arizona, Ohio, South Carolina and Utah, along with Wisconsin, have not started their programs.

Wisconsin plans to limit Medicaid coverage to four years for poor adults without dependent children unless they work, train for a job or participate in certain other activities.

Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat who took office last year, tried to block the work requirement, but the Republican-controlled Legislature kept it. Evers’ administration has said it would implement it.

Andrea Palm, the secretary of the Department of Health Services appointed by Evers, requested more time in September, and the Legislature’s GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee approved the delay to Jan. 30.

On Wednesday, Palm sent another letter to the committee asking for an extension to April 29. Palm said the state is reviewing feedback from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, and submitting more information.

“DHS believes attention to detail and compliance with CMS direction will be essential for successful implementation and long-term success” of the program, she wrote. “DHS continues to monitor the legal challenges other states have experienced” implementing the program.

Some other aspects of Walker’s plan are set to begin Saturday, health department spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt said.

They include monthly premiums of up to $8 and allowing members to reduce premiums through “healthy behaviors,” such as not smoking or maintaining a healthy weight.

Emergency room visit co-payments of $8 for non-emergencies, which were scheduled to begin Saturday, are delayed until June 30 because CMS required a temporary suspension, Goodsitt said.

Meanwhile, a plan to add a Medicaid benefit for residential facility substance use disorder has been put on hold, Goodsitt said.


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