As Mississippi's Division of Medicaid waits for a decision on it's work requirement application, health advocates wonder what the projected cost will be to the state.
Mississippi State Division of Medicaid's application for a work requirement would mean recipients would have to work 20 hours per week to keep healthcare coverage. People could also participate in workforce training or do community service. But, for those who work, some will earn too much money to qualify for benefits. Georgetown University Researcher Joan Alker says the most vulnerable will be impacted.
"That means the only adults that you have that would be subject to this new requirement would be mothers primarily, very low-income parents. Those are the only adults, unless you're disabled, that can get Medicaid in Mississippi," said Alker.
Medicaid has added a provision to allow recipients in that category to keep their benefits for two more years. There are a few exceptions to the work requirement including pregnant women and the disabled. Governor Phil Bryant has said the request isn't a punitive action against recipients. He says it will help people find good jobs and obtain health insurance through an employer not the government. Medicaid costs $1 billion annually in state funding. Roy Mitchell with Mississippi Health Advocacy Program says the plan will add another layer of bureaucracy.
"I'd be very interested to know exactly how much this is going to cost the state and if it is addressed at all in terms of the state legislature and the division of Medicaid," said Mitchell.
The Federal Medicaid office is handling the application. The state division of Medicaid says its working with them to determine the cost. In a statement the federal agency says it doesn't comment on pending applications.