Trump administration readies Medicaid changes threatening coverage for tens of thousands

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Undeterred by the law or anything resembling human decency, the Trump administration is readying a new round of Medicaid waivers that will mean tens of thousands of people could be dropped off coverage. They’re adding drug use disclosure to work requirements and are prepping to approve the waivers in three more states, Arizona, Wisconsin and Maine. That’s despite the fact that they got slapped down by a federal judge on work requirements in Kentucky and are currently being sued in Arkansas for a work requirement waiver there.

To make it even more heinous, the administration is likely to circumvent Arizona’s attempt to exempt Native Americans from its waiver, another Trump attack on the identity and sovereignty of the tribal nations. The Trump administration says that the tribes are a race and not discrete nations and thus should get the exemption Arizona has asked for them. The administration says

believes that such an exemption would raise constitutional and federal civil rights law concerns,” Politico reports. The administration says “an exemption amounts to an illegal preference, according to three officials with knowledge of the determination.”

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker isn’t going to get the drug testing requirement he wants—the man is totally obsessed with making poor people pee in cups. Instead, in addition to adding the work requirement the Wisconsin waiver would allow the state to ask applicants if they have used illegal drugs or are in treatment for substance abuse. That’s likely enough to prevent thousands from even applying for Medicaid, says Joan Alker, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. “Even if it’s technically benign, it might not be—the devil’s in the details. […] If people hear there’s a drug testing requirement, that might be a deterrent from even applying.”

Alker also points out that it’s harder to estimate the number of people who are going to lose coverage because states and the administration are now hiding that information, probably as a result of Kentucky’s public estimate that 95,000 people would lose their Medicaid, a projection that influenced the judge that blocked the waiver there.

Never mind that the majority of people on Medicaid ARE ALREADY WORKING, or that Medicaid is for essential for many in substance abuse treatment and recovery. Or that these policies are blatantly racist. Or that much of what the administration is planning to do is flat out illegal and going to cost tax payers millions in legal costs. It’s like the administration is doing it precisely because of all those things.

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