AL Medicaid work proposals not getting positive feedback so far

AL Medicaid work proposals not getting positive feedback so far
A meeting at AIDT Monday to allow the public time to share thoughts and opinions about the state Medicaid agency having work requirements. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey's push to make a change in Medicaid is not getting positive feedback so far based on the first of two state public hearings that was held Monday. The change potentially impacts 74,000 people.

Don Clemons chose not to speak at the public hearing because he heard what he needed to hear. The change Ivey wants to make to thousands of Medicaid recipients doesn't make any sense to him.

"It causes a lot of confusion and they're trying to fix something I don't think it's really a problem," Clemons said.

This is what folks like Clemons heard; there are 74,000 caregivers in Alabama who care for disabled children. The governor would like many of those caregivers who are able-bodied to find jobs outside the home working at least 20 hours a week if the child is under 6-years-old and more hours if they're school-aged.

The reason?

"There's a very direct correlation between work and the quality of life," said Robin Rawls, Director of Communications for Alabama Medicaid.

The proposal would be a condition to continue receiving Medicaid benefits. Critics say they have major issues with the proposal; who would provide childcare and what about transportation?

"The logic is a Catch-22. If you get a job with the required 20 hours a week, then you make too much money to qualify for Medicaid," said Kimble Forrister, Executive Director for ARISE.

The federal government is said to be open to what Alabama wants to do. The governor's plan, however, does provide exemptions such as being over 60, pregnancy or a caregiver who is medically unable to comply with the proposed work requirements.

There is no deadline for a decision to be made by the state, but clearly, those who attended the public hearing have already made theirs.

The following is what governor Ivey says would qualify as 'employment-related activites':

  • Employment
  • On the job training
  • Job search and job readiness activities
  • Attendance in high school, GED certification classes, an institution of higher learning, vocational or other job training program or on the job training
  • Volunteer work activities or community service
  • Technical training

The following are exemptions to the proposed work requirements:

  • Anyone who has a disability/medically frail or has a medical condition that would prevent them from complying with the work requirement as validated by a medical professional including anyone receiving social security disability insurance or supplement security income (SSI)
  • Pregnancy or receiving post-partum care
  • Anyone 60 or older
  • Anyone required to care for a disabled child or adult
  • Anyone participating in an intensive, authorized medical treatment program for substance abuse including opioid addiction
  • Anyone enrolled in and compliant with the TANF JOBS program
  • Anyone who has been determined to be exempt or deferred from the TANF JOBS program participation including a single custodian parent of a child age 12 months and younger or single custodial parent caring for a child under the age of 6 for whom  appropriate childcare is not available
  • Anyone who failed to meet the employment requirements for 'good cause', similar to those in the TANF JOBS program

The second public hearing is Tuesday in Hoover.

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