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Major shift as Trump opens way for Medicaid work requirement

The Trump administration says it's offering a path for states that want to seek work requirements or "community engagement" for Medicaid recipients.

WASHINGTON - The Trump administration says it's offering a path for states that want to seek work requirements or "community engagement" for Medicaid recipients.

And that's a major policy shift toward low-income people.

Seema Verma heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and she's announcing the new approach. She says work and community involvement can make a positive difference in people's health.

Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population. Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries, and today’s announcement is a step in that direction,” said Seema Verma, CMS Administrator.

But the plan probably will face opposition and legal challenges over concerns that people would lose coverage.

Medicaid is a federal-state collaboration that's grown to cover about 1 in 5 Americans. It's the largest government health insurance program.

According to the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, 100,000 Kentuckians will be left without Medicaid coverage.

People don't have to work to be on Medicaid. But states traditionally can seek federal waivers to test new ideas.

"One important issue for Kentucky is what is our infrastructure to even deliver these kinds of placements," says Rich Seckel with the Kentucky Equal Justice Center. "If you go outside of Lexington or Louisville there's real concern about whether nonprofits, local governments, school systems will be able to find things for people to do and whether those things are going to be appropriate for the people and the populations they serve. Again our biggest concern is if people just can't handle the requirements, they are going to lose their benefits."

The administration is spelling out safeguards for states to obtain approval.

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