SPLC: Trump administration should reject Alabama Medicaid waiver application

The SPLC on Monday urged the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to reject Alabama’s application for a waiver that would allow the state to impose work requirements on adult caregivers of dependent children.

“If approved by CMS, the proposal by Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar would strip health care coverage from thousands of needy, low-income Alabamians,” said Sam Brooke, deputy legal director for the SPLC.

“It creates a ‘Catch-22’ scenario in which these individuals would end up earning too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to pay for private insurance,” Brooke said.

“In a state like Alabama where Medicaid has not been expanded under the Affordable Care Act, the policy would impose a significant burden on the state that far outweighs any projected savings the state hopes to realize under the plan. This plan will ultimately force families to rely on emergency rooms – subsidized by taxpayers – for routine health services. It is wasteful and puts lives at risk. We encourage members of the community to join us by urging CMS to reject Alabama’s waiver application during the federal comment period.”

Individuals can submit comments for the federal comment period through Oct. 21 at: https://splcenter.typeform.com/to/PJkAO9. During the state-level comment period in March, more than 90 percent of commenters opposed the state’s plan.

In January, the SPLC, the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center filed a federal lawsuit challenging Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver plan that has a work requirement component approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In June, a federal judge vacated the administration’s approval of Kentucky’s plan and sent the project back to HHS.

The SPLC and NHeLP are also challenging the administration’s approval of a similar plan by Arkansas, which resulted in the loss of Medicaid coverage to more than 4,600 low-income people in that state earlier this month.