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Florida’s Medicaid Work Requirements Will Eliminate the Program for the Very Poor

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A man dressed as Donald Trump at a Florida protest against the Senate’s 2017 health-care bill, which proposed drastic Medicaid cuts.

At the end of April, the Florida House of Representatives voted 71–44, along party lines, to pass HB955, legislation that would result in the implementation of work requirements on all the state’s non-disabled adult Medicaid recipients. Florida is home to some 500,000 recipients of Medicaid, the federal health-care program for the poor and disabled. Per the bill’s proposal, those beneficiaries would be required to prove they are working or actively seeking jobs to maintain their eligibility, potentially jeopardizing some 100,000 people their current coverage. It represents the most aggressive proposed cuts to the Medicaid program to date.

Though Medicaid is a federal program, states can proposition for changes in their administration of funds and benefits. If approved by the state Senate, HB955 would authorize Governor Ron DeSantis to ask the federal Department of Health and Human Services for a Section 1115 waiver, granting permission to impose a new work requirement of 20 hours per week on adult Medicaid recipients who aren’t disabled. But 20 hours of work at Florida‘s minimum wage of $8.46 per hour would yield about $677 per month, well above the state’s income limit of 33 percent of federal poverty level for Medicaid eligibility, creating a bind that’s all but certain to eliminate coverage for Florida‘s very poor either way. Though the bill didn’t make it out of the Florida Senate before the end of session earlier this month, it’s likely to be taken up again once the legislature reconvenes.

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