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New Medicaid Policy Allows State Diversity

January 12, 2018 - 9:12am CST

The Trump Administration yesterday announced a shift in Medicaid policy that will allow more diversity in how states design medical welfare programs. In a letter to state Medicaid directors, the Administration said it “will support state efforts to test incentives that make participation in work or other community engagement a requirement for continued Medicaid eligibility or coverage” for able-bodied, working-age adults.

Many policymakers believe such work requirements can have multiple positive effects, including boosting workforce participation, reducing Medicaid costs, and improving people’s health. The letter acknowledges that “a broad range of social, economic, and behavioral factors can have a major impact on an individual’s health and wellness, and a growing body of evidence suggests that targeting certain health determinants, including productive work and community engagement, may improve health outcomes.”

When she was a member of Congress, Gov. Mary Fallin was a strong opponent of Obamacare in part because it stifled state policy innovation in the area of health care. She should take the lead, with this encouragement from the Trump Administration, in redesigning Oklahoma’s Medicaid policies to take advantage of this new flexibility.