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Federal agency blocks Indiana's Medicaid work requirements

The work program required Healthy Indiana Plan members to report 20 hours of work, volunteer, school and other activities every month, or risk losing coverage.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Biden administration has revoked the federal authorization for Indiana's planned work requirements for low-income residents who receive their health insurance through Medicaid. 

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb sought to implement the work requirement for the Healthy Indiana Plan program in 2019 under approval from the Trump administration. 

The Gateway to Work program aimed to require Healthy Indiana Plan members to report 20 hours of work, volunteer, school and other activities every month, or risk losing coverage. The new rules would have affected about 130,000 of the more than 500,000 people covered under the Healthy Indiana Plan. 

However, the plan was put on hold after being challenged by a federal lawsuit and as suspensions from the program were halted during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notified Indiana officials last week that the employment mandate "risks significant coverage losses and harm to beneficiaries." 

Holcomb said he believed the Gateway to Work plan had the potential to help many Hoosiers.

But the agency disagreed. In their notice to Indiana officials, the DHHS said broad exemptions to the work requirement plus time and paperwork needed to report hours increased the likelihood that the requirement would "influence the behavior of a very small number of individuals, while risking coverage loss for many."

Indiana is not alone in having its work requirement blocked. New Hampshire had its Medicaid work requirement blocked by a federal judge in 2019. The same judge also blocked work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky. 

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