Portman, DeWine disappointed in Biden’s removal of Ohio’s Medicaid work requirement

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The Biden administration made good on a promise from early February to remove permission for Ohio to require work as a condition of Medicaid benefits.

The requirements need federal approval but were delayed amid the pandemic after the blessing from the Trump administration in 2019.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services withdrew the state’s approval Tuesday of the waiver that allowed the development of work requirements.

“The Biden administration’s decision is extremely disappointing. Work requirements provide much-needed flexibility in the Medicaid system to provide greater well-being and self-sufficiency to individuals who are able to work while slowing the growth rate of Medicaid and thus the burden on taxpayers,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said. “I will continue to advocate for bipartisan common-sense solutions to address the affordability of health care and the long-term budget implications of Medicaid on the state and federal level.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine called the administration’s decision short-sighted.

“The Biden Administration’s announcement withdrawing approval of Ohio’s Medicaid work requirement waiver is extremely disappointing. Ohio’s reasonable approach provided individuals with options while supporting them on their way to self-sufficiency,” DeWine said in a statement. “The Biden Administration’s decision was 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 decision also drew criticism from policy groups, like think tank The Buckeye Institute, which could create longer unemployment stays and limit job skills growth.

“The ill-considered decision by the Biden Administration to reject Ohio’s Medicaid work and community engagement waiver will result in more Ohioans being disconnected from the workforce for longer periods of time,” Rea Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute and vice president of policy. “This misguided policy reversal will make it harder for people to gain new skills and valuable work experience, which The Buckeye Institute’s research shows can lead to better job opportunities and higher lifetime earnings. This decision only reinforces the fact that Medicaid reform—that protects the most vulnerable and helps healthy working age adults lead more prosperous lives—is desperately needed.”

State Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, introduced Senate Bill 17 that proposed sweeping changes to various social programs, including Medicaid. It would require many of those in the joint state and federal health care program to work or go to school part-time.

The proposed legislation drew long lines of opposition witnesses in the Government Oversight and Reform Committee, while only three witnesses testified on its behalf.

If passed and signed, the legislation would make significant changes to the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), unemployment compensation, and Medicaid work requirements. In addition, it would establish anti-fraud and anti-waste measures for food stamps and unemployment while adding work requirements for Medicaid.

It proposes placing photo identification on SNAP EBT cards to help reduce theft and fraud. He cited Obama Administration statistics when he said annual food stamp fraud in Ohio is around $26.25 million.

SB 17 remains in committee, and Ohio lawmakers remain on recess until September.

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