White House Says States Can Require Medicaid Patients to Work if They Want Coverage
Medicaid. States will be able to impose work requirements on many Americans who depend on Medicaid, the first time in the program’s half-century history that the government will require people to work in exchange for health coverage.
A small fraction of people covered by Medicaid are of working age, non-disabled and currently unemployed. Critics say the main impact of the rules will be to subject poor people to stacks of paperwork that will drive some to drop coverage.
The Trump administration outlined the work-requirement plan in a letter to state Medicaid officials and is expected to quickly approve requests from as many as 10 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.
A growing body of evidence shows that Medicaid health coverage is helping many Americans improve their health and finances. Almost two-thirds of Medicaid recipients are children, elderly or disabled. They will be exempt from the new requirements.
Whites preferred. Immigration talks on Capitol Hill foundered Thursday after the White House and some GOP lawmakers rejected a tentative deal from a bipartisan Senate group—and Trump made incendiary remarks about people from developing countries. In a meeting with senators in which they discussed the fate of immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations, Trump became frustrated and made a reference to “shithole countries,” arguing that the United States should bring in more immigrants from Norway instead.
Affordable Care Act. People who bought policies from Centene, a large for-profit health insurance company, filed a federal lawsuit claiming the company does not provide adequate access to doctors in 15 states. People signed up for insurance, and they “discovered there were no doctors,” said attorney Seth Lesser. Centene, which provides coverage in the Medicaid program, has proven to be one of the mainstays of the Affordable Care Act. The lawsuit underscores a critical question about whether Centene offers plans that provide its customers with access to the level of care required under the law. The suit claims that many doctors won’t accept patients covered by Centene because of the company’s refusal to pay legitimate claims.
Surveillance. The U.S. House approved legislation to renew government surveillance powers while voting down new limits on how authorities can use the information. The bill, passed by a vote of 256-164, now heads to the Senate which is expected to pass the measure before the surveillance program expires Jan. 19. At issue is a law passed in 2008, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that allows the NSA to collect texts and emails of foreigners abroad without an individualized warrant, even when they communicate with Americans in the U.S. Privacy advocates pushed for changes to the law that critics say are necessary to ensure Fourth Amendment protections for people swept up in surveillance. Republicans have long speculated that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was caught up in 702 surveillance and inappropriately unmasked by Obama administration officials.
Investigation. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens admitted he had been “unfaithful” in his marriage after a St. Louis television station reported he had an affair before he became governor and he allegedly threatened to blackmail the woman about their sexual encounter. The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office has opened a probe, and several Republican Missouri state senators have called for an investigation by the state’s attorney general. Greitens denied through his attorney that he tried to blackmail the woman to keep her quiet.