MADISON - Tens of thousands of needy but able-bodied adults in Wisconsin could have to work to qualify for state health coverage under a plan from Gov. Scott Walker that has won support from President Donald Trump's administration.
Seema Verma, head of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, opened the way this week for states to require "able-bodied, working-age Medicaid beneficiaries" to participate in skills training, education, job search, volunteering or caregiving.
Walker and his fellow GOP governors in nine other states have sought to impose work and training requirements on the Medicaid program known in Wisconsin as BadgerCare. But to do it they needed the backing of federal officials.
“Medicaid needs to be more flexible so that states can best address the needs of this population," Verma said in a statement. "Our fundamental goal is to make a positive and lasting difference in the health and wellness of our beneficiaries."
Walker, whose office had no immediate reaction to the news, has sought to impose both work requirements and drug testing on BadgerCare and other public benefits. Critics say these moves will cost taxpayers more than they save, trigger costly lawsuits and fail to boost the state’s economy the way other investments might.