Medicaid officials have scheduled two public hearings later this month in Jackson to garner public input on the proposal. Collecting public input on the proposal is one of several steps in the process of requesting permission from the federal government to institute a work requirement.

The meetings are:

  • 10 a.m. Nov. 15 at the Woolfolk state office building in Jackson. Anyone wanting to participate via teleconference for the first meeting can phone 1-877-820-7831 and punch in access code 8930051.
  • 10 a.m. Nov. 17 at the War Memorial Building in Jackson.

People wanting to learn more about submitting written comments can check www.medicaid.ms.gov.

There have been past discussions of imposing a work requirement for certain groups of people to be eligible for Medicaid.

Those who would fall under work or work force training requirements, if federal officials grant Mississippi’s proposed waiver request, would be low income parents/caretakers, according to the Division of Medicaid proposal. According to information compiled in December 2016 by the Division of Medicaid, low income parents/caretakers represent 7 percent of Medicaid’s total enrollment in the state.

The information collected showed that there were 711,197 Medicaid recipients in the state, with a majority of those – 56 percent – being children. In addition, 23 percent of the recipients were disabled, while 9 percent were elderly and the rest were either pregnant women or the low income parents of children or family caretakers of someone on Medicaid.

Under the state proposal, people could meet the requirement through working 20 hours, participating in Office of Employment Security programs, volunteering with approved agencies, participating in alcohol and drug treatment programs, receiving unemployment insurance or participating in other federal work requirement programs.

Similar requirements are placed on those receiving Food Stamps or Temporary Aid for Needy Families benefits.

People who are taking care of someone who cannot be left alone or people with mental illnesses would be exempt from the requirements.

Medicaid is a joint federal government/state program. Mississippi’s match rate is the most favorable in the nation with the federal government paying nearly 75 percent of the cost.

Still Mississippi officials have struggled to pay the state’s share of the cost.

Gov. Phil Bryant’s Medicaid officials reasoned the work requirement would help hold down cost, lead to better health for the state’s citizens and improve the overall economy of the state.

“DOM is seeking this waiver to assist individuals with building a foundation for success – both in their personal life and their health. Our goal is to begin building a future of healthy citizens in the state,” Medicaid officials said in their proposal to the federal government.

The nonprofit Mississippi Health Advocacy Program said such work requirements have proven counter-productive in other states.

In an email, the Health Advocacy Program said, “Most adult Medicaid enrollees who can work already do. In addition, studies on other benefit programs that have work requirements have shown little or no impact on long-term employment.

“Medicaid work requirements will drive up the rate of uninsured Mississippians, which will ultimately result in increased health care costs for everyone.”