Biden Administration: Work Requirements in Medicaid Do Not Promote the Objectives of the Program

Starting process to consider withdrawing approval for state requirements

February 16, 2021

Washington, D.C. – The administration sent letters to states late Friday that have approved Medicaid waivers allowing work and community engagement requirements, stating these requirements do not promote the objectives of the program and announcing its intention to review whether to keep them in place.

To date, 12 states have been approved to implement such eligibility requirements in their Medicaid programs and several other states have similar applications pending. While lower courts had previously blocked work requirements, ruling the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) violated federal law by approving them, states have continued to pursue these barriers. The administration’s notices to states come ahead of the Supreme Court’s March 29 date to consider the validity of work requirements.  

The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) president:

“As an organization devoted to reducing suffering and death from cancer, the administration’s notice to states of its intent to consider withdrawing approval of work requirements from Medicaid programs is a welcome first step. These unnecessarily bureaucratic barriers never promoted the objectives of the Medicaid program and were purely meant to limit access to it. ACS CAN has strongly advocated against these requirements due to the life-threatening risk they pose to cancer patients, survivors and all those at risk of developing the disease.

“Thanks to the action taken by the administration to start the process of removing work and community engagement requirements from Medicaid programs, cancer patients and survivors soon may no longer have to fear losing their Medicaid coverage if treatment leaves them unable to work. Research suggests that between 40 and 85 percent of cancer patients stop working while receiving cancer treatment. Cancer survivors are often unable to work or are limited in the amount or kind of work they can participate in because of compromised immune systems and other complications related to their cancer diagnosis.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of access to care and the very real health inequities nationwide that must be addressed, the critical role Medicaid plays has been made even more clear. This program is and will continue to be a lifeline for so many. ACS CAN is grateful to the administration for making restoring and improving this lifesaving program a priority.”


Media Contacts

Emily Burr
Director, Media Advocacy
Washington, D.C.
Alissa Crispino
Vice President, Media Advocacy & Communications
Washington, D.C.