Indiana suspends work requirement for Medicaid until lawsuit is resolved

Indiana is suspending a requirement that tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients find a job, volunteer, get career training or go to school as a condition for receiving medical benefits.

The move, announced Thursday, comes a month after two groups filed suit in federal court, saying the requirement could potentially jettison thousands of people from medical coverage.

The state Family and Social Services Administration said it will shelve the requirement to allow time for the lawsuit to be resolved.

Starting in July, Indiana began requiring people to work, volunteer or participate in other qualifying activities as a condition for receiving medical benefits under the Healthy Indiana Plan, the state’s biggest Medicaid program, which covers more than 400,000 low-income people.

The requirements were being phased in over a full year, beginning with five hours of work a week and building up to 20 hours by July 2020. Recipients have been required to file monthly reports.

The program, called “Gateway to Work,” contains numerous exemptions, including for people over 60, caregivers of dependent children, incapacitated people, and those in treatment for substance abuse. State officials have estimated that 85,000 people on the program would have to work, volunteer or go to school.

“We remain committed to operating the Gateway to Work program and to continuing to build on the early successes of the program, through which HIP members are reporting successful engagements in their workplaces, schools and communities,” Indiana Medicaid Director Allison Taylor said.

FSSA said it will continue to encourage HIP members to report their activities to the state or their health plan so they can be connected to resources such as the state’s Next Level Jobs program, Ivy Tech, WorkOne and local job-training and advancement programs.

Indiana Legal Services and the National Health Law program filed suit in September, saying the new requirements could unfairly stop thousands of people from getting medical coverage.

Named as defendants were the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

The suit was the fourth federal lawsuit challenging a Medicaid waiver project with a work requirement approved by the federal government. Rulings have blocked work requirements in Arkansas, Kentucky and New Hampshire.

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