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HHS says no to lifetime limits on Medicaid


 

The Trump administration’s promise of unprecedented flexibility to states in running their Medicaid programs hit its limit on May 7.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rejected a proposal from Kansas to place a 3-year lifetime cap on some adult Medicaid enrollees. Since Medicaid began in 1965, no state has restricted how long beneficiaries could remain in the entitlement program.

Seema Verma CMS

Seema Verma

“We seek to create a pathway out of poverty, but we also understand that people’s circumstances change, and we must ensure that our programs are sustainable and available to them when they need and qualify for them,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said May 7 at an American Hospital Association meeting in Washington.

Arizona, Utah, Maine and Wisconsin have also requested lifetime limits on Medicaid.

This marked the first time the Trump administration has rejected a state’s Medicaid waiver request regarding who is eligible for the program.

Critics of time limits, who say such a change would unfairly burden people who struggle financially throughout their lives, cheered the decision.

“This is good news,” said Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, a Medicaid advocate. “This was a bridge too far for this CMS.”

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