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Louisiana pursues Medicaid work requirements — 9 things to know

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to propose Medicaid work requirements in a special session beginning Feb. 19, according to The Advocate. Here's what you should know:

1. House Republicans floated Medicaid work requirements by the Democratic governor in the midst of budget negotiations, but the groundwork was already being laid. House GOP Caucus Chair Lance Harris had drafted a bill for the regular session that will likely be similar to what's proposed in the special session.

2. If enacted, Harris's plan will require 19- to 64-year-olds without disabilities to work 20 hours a week at minimum or participate in community engagement activities as a condition for Medicaid coverage.

3. Several groups of people, including pregnant women and those enrolled in drug or alcohol addiction treatment programs, would be exempt from the requirement.

4. About 1.6 million Louisiana residents are on Medicaid. The Louisiana Department of Health estimates that about 10 percent — or 160,000 people — would be affected by the work requirement.

6. An estimated 65 to 75 percent of Medicaid recipients in Louisiana are already working, and an additional 20 percent would qualify for exemptions.

7. "A growing body of evidence suggests that targeting certain health determinants, including productive work and community engagement, may improve health outcomes," said Brian Neale, who stepped down as Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services director earlier this month.

8. Opponents of the bill argue that the work requirement would create an unnecessary burden for Medicaid recipients yet save little on costs.

9. Kentucky and Indiana are the only two states that have received federal approval for work requirement requests. Eight states' requests are pending approval.

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