Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

The federal government has signed off on the state’s plan to institute work requirements for some Medicaid recipients.

But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shot down a provision in Wisconsin’s waiver request asking for permission to drug test recipients of BadgerCare Plus, instead opting to require recipients to complete a health and wellness survey that includes questions about drug use.

Gov. Scott Walker touted the news Wednesday, writing the state “is leading the way on welfare reform.”

“We want to remove barriers to work and make it easier to get a job, while making sure public assistance is available for those who truly need it,” he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan countered on Twitter the Trump administration’s decision to sign off on work requirements will hurt Wisconsin residents.

“Countless studies have shown that this is an irresponsible and ineffective policy that will result in fewer Wisconsinites with health care,” the Town of Vermont Dem wrote.

The changes CMS approved will take at least a year to go into effect, per the state Department of Health Services. That’s so the agency can get feedback from stakeholders “to help us build our implementation plan.”

The approved plan includes the measure to require able-bodied childless adults between 19 and 49 in the program to work or participate in a worker training program or “other community engagement” for at least 80 hours a month to receive benefits.

Those not meeting those requirements for a total of 48 months would lose Medicaid eligibility for six months before again being able to reapply for benefits.

Among the other provisions in the waiver request the feds approved today:

*Instituting a monthly premium for BadgerCare Plus recipients of $8 per household for those childless adults whose household incomes are between 50 and 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Premiums would be lower, though, to reward “those who avoid or manage certain health risk behaviors,” the approved waiver notes. Health risk behaviors, the waiver says, includes using drugs and excessive alcohol consumption, not wearing a seatbelt, failing to exercise and more.

*Implementing an $8 copayment for childless adult recipients who visit the emergency room in a non-emergency situation.

*Requiring recipients to fill out a health and wellness survey that would include questions about drug use. The waiver says responses to the questionnaire “will result in a referral for treatment, as applicable, but not impact an applicant’s Medicaid eligibility.”

*And providing access to substance use disorder treatment to all Medicaid beneficiaries.

See the approved waiver:

See Walker’s release:

By Briana Reilly

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