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Ohio to Appeal White House Voiding of State’s Medicaid Work Rule

September 9, 2021 by Dan McCue
In an April 10, 2020 file photo, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine leave the State Room at the Ohio Statehouse, wearing handmade masks, after giving an update on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch/TNS)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has filed an appeal of the Biden administration’s withdrawal of the state Medicaid work requirement previously approved by the Trump White House.

“Removing a provision that says a healthy, able-bodied individual should be working, looking for work, participating in job training, or participating in a recovery program in order to receive free taxpayer-funded health care is contrary to Ohioans’ values,” said Gov. Mike DeWine in a statement announcing the appeal.

“Eliminating reasonable requirements discourages people from becoming self-sufficient and only reinforces government dependency. Ohio’s program would offer assistance when Ohioans need it, while providing opportunities for future success,” he said.

DeWine said he asked Yost to file the appeal, and Yost immediately filed notice of the same with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The agency revoked the work requirement Ohio wanted to implement to determine Medicaid eligibility on Aug. 9.

The decision was a blow to DeWine and the Republicans who control the state legislature who argued the requirement was necessary to sustain the health insurance program which covers roughly 3 million low-income and disabled Ohioans. 

The state’s so-called “community engagement” requirement would have mandated all new adult group beneficiaries under the age of 50 to complete at least 80 hours per month of either employment, education or job skills training to maintain their Medicare eligibility. 

The rule was originally passed by the state legislature in 2017, and was approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2019.

Ohio planned on implementing the requirement in January, but the coronavirus pandemic and increased Medicaid funding the state accepted during the health emergency put the implementation on hold.

In February, shortly after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the agency sent a letter to the state’s Medicaid department, informing it that the administration planned to rescind the Trump-era approval on the grounds the reporting requirements for the program were overly burdensome.

The state disputed this, but the administration stuck to its assessment and said Ohio had failed to address its concerns about the requirement.

DeWine responded at the time by calling the administration’s decision “short-sighted” and “contrary to our statewide effort to improve public health.”

“By requiring an individual to work, learn new job skills, or be involved in a recovery program, Ohioans would be providing critical assistance to individuals when they needed it while laying the groundwork for their success in the future,” the governor said in August.

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