Arizona looks to add work requirements to Medicaid benefits

On Tuesday, Arizona submitted a section 1115 waiver proposal to add work requirements to their Medicaid program. The waiver would require “able-bodied adults” between the ages of 19 and 55 to be employed or actively seeking employment, attend school, or participate in Employment Support and Development programs for at least 20 hours a week in order to qualify for Medicaid coverage. The waiver also requests a 5-year lifetime benefit limit for these individuals. However, exemptions to these requirements includes individuals with serious mental illness, experiencing homelessness, or those who have recently been impacted by a catastrophic event.

In a letter to CMS administrator Seema Verma, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) Director Thomas Betlach wrote,

“Arizona has long demonstrated its commitment to innovation in Medicaid. Building on that history and experience, this waiver is designed to provide low-income, able-bodied adults with the tools needed to gain and maintain meaningful employment. For able-bodied adults, Medicaid is an important solution for temporary life circumstances, but should not be a long-term substitute for private health insurance.”

Last year, Arizona submitted a similar waiver to the Obama administration, but it was rejected. It appears they are hoping for better luck with the Trump administration which may be more open to this kind of proposal.