News from the Alaska State Legislature, the Office of Senator Kelly
For Immediate Release: May 03, 2018

Senate Approves Work Requirements for Medicaid Recipients

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JUNEAU – The Alaska Senate today approved a measure requiring able-bodied recipients of Medicaid to pursue employment, volunteer service or subsistence activities.  

SB 193, sponsored by Senate President Pete Kelly (R-Fairbanks), requires eligible Medicaid recipients to work, enroll in educational or training programs, volunteer, or engage in subsistence activities, for a minimum of 20 hours each week.

“This bill establishes a simple policy: If you can work and you’re receiving benefits, then you should work,” said Sen. Kelly. “If you can’t work, we understand, and you get a pass. For those who are finding it difficult to find a job, you can volunteer. The important thing is that you join the community of people who contribute every day to making Alaska a better place.”

On January 11, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a new policy designed to assist states in improving Medicaid enrollee health and well-being through work and community engagement incentives under section 1115 of the Social Security Act. SB 193 takes advantage of the new policy by directing the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to apply for a section 1115 waiver to establish work requirements for eligible adults.

“219,000, or nearly one-third of all Alaskans, are receiving Medicaid services at an average cost of nearly $12,000 each,” said Sen. Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna). “77 percent of Alaskans support Medicaid work requirements and able-bodied, working age adults have begun crowding out services for the most-vulnerable seniors and the disabled. This bill is about ‘teaching a man to fish.’ It’s about helping Alaskans succeed by reaching their full potential through a reasonable transition from dependence on government to productivity and fulfillment. The two-part process will identify gaps to employment, such as opportunity and training, and help Alaskans break the cycle so that they can realize their dreams through meaningful employment and other ways of improving personal success.”

Those exempted from the work requirement include but are not limited to Medicaid recipients who are under 18 or 65 years of age or older, unable to work for medical reasons, pregnant, the parent or caretaker of a child with disabilities, a victim of domestic violence, or currently receiving unemployment insurance benefits.

View a full list of exemptions here.

The legislation also does not prevent a recipient with a substance abuse disorder from obtaining appropriate treatment.

SB 193 passed the Senate by a vote of 14 to 4 and is now on its way to the Alaska House of Representatives for consideration.  

For more information, contact Senate Majority Press Secretary Daniel McDonald at (907) 465-4066.

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