Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

The state Department of Health Services Wednesday asked the Trump administration for permission to add drug screenings, premiums and time limits for childless adults on Medicaid.

DHS submitted its request with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, whose leadership has said they’d like to give states more flexibility on those issues.

If approved, Wisconsin would be the first state to screen Medicaid recipients for drug abuse, and the waiver request also would put Wisconsin among the first in trying several other measures.

Critics say the changes would kick people off their health care, but Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday they would help “people transition from public assistance into Wisconsin’s workforce, where they can build a solid financial foundation for themselves and their families.”

Walker wants to screen Medicaid recipients for drug abuse and test some of them, with those who test positive being given the option to enter treatment. He also wants to set a 48-month eligibility for Medicaid, though people who meet a work requirement aren’t subject to the limit. And he wants to add monthly premiums to the program.

Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, blasted Walker’s proposals.

“It is sickening to see Gov. Walker working with Donald Trump to make Wisconsin a national leader in cruel, unnecessary, and damaging policies for some of our most vulnerable populations,” she said.

DHS has been gathering feedback for the past few weeks on the draft request it released in April, and the agency made several tweaks to the request.

Those include:

*expanding the pool of people who would be exempt from paying premiums. DHS originally wanted to exempt from paying premiums those who make between zero and 20 percent of the poverty level, but it’s now expanded that to those whose income is 50 percent of that amount. The maximum amount people would pay each month would also be $8, down from $10 in the draft request.

*changing procedures for those who test positive for drugs and refuse treatments. The draft had called for those people to lose their Medicaid benefits for six months, though DHS tweaked that to ensure people can become eligible anytime again if they consent to treatment.

*changing the copayments for emergency room visits. DHS originally wanted to add $8 copayments for a first visit to the ER and then $25 for each visit in the next 12 months, but the agency now wants those copayments to be $8 for all visits.

The agency says CMS will have a 30-day federal public notice process and will spend at least 45 days making a decision. Any changes that are approved would take effect a year later.

See a WisPolitics.com story from April on Wisconsin’s waiver request:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/walkers-proposed-time-limits-for-medicaid-would-be-first-among-states/

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