Biden administration rejects demands for Medicaid work in Georgia


WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Thursday rejected work requirements for Medicaid recipients in Georgia, the latest state to have a federal waiver for such restrictions, as it extended its cancellation of a signature health policy Trump administration.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announcement, delivered in 79 pages letter to Georgia health agency, also rescinded a federal waiver allowing the state to charge premiums for the poor people’s health insurance program.

The Medicaid agency said the worsening coronavirus pandemic and the emergence of the Omicron variant had made Georgia’s work requirement “infeasible under the current circumstances” as Covid cases increased.

“Georgia’s work demands significantly undermine the effectiveness of the state’s demonstration in promoting coverage for intended beneficiaries,” a Medicaid agency statement said. “The lingering health consequences of Covid-19 infections further exacerbate the harms of these barriers to coverage for low-income people. “

The move was also in line with President Biden’s broader political goals, dealing a critical blow to already shaken efforts to tie work demands to Medicaid. The movement of more than a dozen states succeeded in practice in enacting work requirements in only a few – and only for a short time – as it faced legal setbacks, pandemic and to a new administration which has gradually dismantled such initiatives.

Georgia had yet to impose proposed work requirements – which limited Medicaid eligibility to those who work at least 80 hours per month – but he could have started the restrictions as early as next week, according to correspondence between the state and federal health agencies.

The bonuses proposed by Georgia had also not been adopted. The Medicaid agency has said it is revoking the power to charge premiums because these charges “can present a barrier to coverage” and exacerbate inequalities in health care.

Katie Byrd, spokesperson for Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, a Republican, criticized the reduction in bonuses and work demands, which she said were aimed at “creating a fair and balanced healthcare framework that increases options and reduces costs “.

“Although they tried to hide behind the holidays by announcing two days before Christmas, we plan to challenge their flawed – possibly political – decision in court,” Byrd said in a statement.

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