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Medicaid Advocates Welcome Withdrawal of Eligibility Proposal

March 25, 2020, 9:18 PM

Health-care advocates are welcoming the Trump administration’s withdrawal of a proposed Medicaid rule that could have left some people without health-care coverage during the growing coronavirus crisis.

The proposed rule was expected to require state Medicaid programs to crack down on ineligible program beneficiaries.

The rule had been slated to appear in April, but a notice Wednesday on a website of the Office of Management and Budget, which reviews proposed federal rules, indicated the rule had been withdrawn.

Officials in the administration have said the proposed rule was needed to deal with a growing problem of improper payments in the Medicaid program, which reached $57 billion in fiscal year 2019.

Medicaid and Coronavirus

But health-care researchers and advocacy groups have argued that tightening eligibility-verification rules—and making it harder for people to get coverage through Medicaid—is exactly the wrong approach during the fight against the coronavirus.

“Today the Trump Administration wisely withdrew a rule that would have added onerous red tape and slashed enrollment just when people need Medicaid the most, as many lose their jobs and see their hours and wages drastically cut and others are stricken with COVID-19,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

“Medicaid is one of the most powerful tools states have to provide health coverage and shore up the economy during times like these,” she said.

The Children’s Hospital Association sounded a similar note. “In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we are heartened to see rules that could create additional burdens to states and beneficiaries withdrawn,” said Gillian Ray, a CHA spokeswoman.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Brown in St. Louis at ChrisBrown@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Brent Bierman at bbierman@bloomberglaw.com

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