December 12, 2019

CONTACT: Kathy Melley, 617-791-0708

Waiver approval in Medicaid non-expansion state of South Carolina sets harmful new precedent 

(BOSTON, MA) — Statement of Emily Stewart, Executive Director of Community Catalyst, regarding approval of Medicaid work reporting requirements in the non-expansion state of South Carolina.

“Today’s approval of South Carolina’s work reporting requirements by CMS Administrator Seema Verma represents a new low in the Trump administration’s quest to strip away health coverage for our nation’s low-income residents. Despite work reporting requirements in several states being struck down in court this year, and despite overwhelming evidence that they cause individuals to lose coverage and don’t encourage work, CMS nevertheless is moving ahead with approving this harmful, ineffective and nonsensical policy.

“South Carolina also had the opportunity to fully expand its Medicaid program in its waiver proposal, but unfortunately the state chose not to do so. Instead, the state will continue to leave hundreds of thousands of individuals without any coverage options – almost half of the population that could be covered by full expansion. Moreover, those who are newly covered by the partial expansion will be subject to the work reporting requirement, and therefore may lose or never gain coverage for failing to meet this new administrative burden.”

“What makes today’s decision even more egregious is that South Carolina will become the first state to impose Medicaid work reporting requirements exclusively on poor parents and caregivers while still refusing to expand Medicaid. The decision will likely result in coverage losses for thousands of parents in the state and will disproportionally affect people of color, particularly Black mothers.  

“This decision will do nothing more than harm parents and caregivers and add bureaucracy and red tape to South Carolina’s Medicaid program. To look for and keep a job, people need to be healthy. Work reporting requirements are a known barrier to coverage, and punishing low-income parents by taking away their access to medications and medical care will only make them sicker and less able to work in the future.

The fundamental purpose of Medicaid is to provide health coverage to low-income individuals, children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and others for whom other forms of health insurance may be out of reach. There is no evidence to support the position that adding work reporting requirements to state Medicaid programs increases employment or improve health outcomes for people with Medicaid coverage. Medicaid is a lifeline for 70 million Americans.”

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About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1998 with the belief that affordable quality health care should be accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers and philanthropic foundations to ensure consumer interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and the health system are made: in communities, statehouses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter @HealthPolicyHub.