April 5, 2018 - SACRAMENTO – The Senate Health Committee approved the passage of Senate Bill 1108, which prohibits work requirements as a condition of Medi-Cal eligibility, by a vote of 8-1. Authored by Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D. (D-West Covina), SB 1108 was introduced after the Trump Administration invited states to revise their Medicaid programs to include punitive policies that will lead to fewer people with health insurance. This bill ensures that California stands firmly against this concept, and continues to prioritize access to health care for some of our most low-income residents.
(Left) Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D. (D-West Covina)
“For the past decade, we’ve focused all of our efforts here in California on covering more people, not less. The federal government's proposal to make health insurance coverage contingent on work requirements is backwards,” said Senator Hernandez, chair of the Senate Health Committee. “SB 1108 puts California on record as rejecting misguided and mean-spirited attempts by the Trump Administration to take Medi-Cal coverage away from those who need it most.”
On January 11, 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a State Medicaid Director Letter giving guidance on waiver proposals for states to implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients. This new policy is a dramatic shift away from previous Democratic and Republican Administrations.
“SB 1108 reaffirms California’s commitment to the Medi-Cal expansion and the idea that all people are deserving of health care,” said Jen Flory of Western Center on Law & Poverty, SB 1108’s sponsor. “Work requirements, lockout periods, and other bureaucratic hurdles have no place in a humane health care system.”
States instituting work requirements in Medicaid may bring more harm to individuals, including, reducing low-income families’ access to care, worsening health outcomes, and making it more difficult for them to maintain health care coverage.
So far, CMS has approved work requirement waivers in Kentucky, Indiana, and Arkansas. Six other states have submitted proposals: Arizona, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Utah, and Wisconsin.
SB 1108 prohibits the Department of Health Care Services from seeking or obtaining a Medicaid demonstration project or waiver requiring:
- Work or community engagement activities as a condition of Medi-Cal eligibility;
- Waiting periods, time limits or coverage lockouts prior to or subsequent to the determination of Medi-Cal eligibility or coverage;
- Any other condition of Medi-Cal eligibility or coverage not authorized by state law or federal statute or regulation.
Read the Los Angeles Times story “Countering Trump administration, a California legislator wants to ban work requirements for Medicaid” by Melanie Mason.
Read the SB 1108 bill language.
Read the SB 1108 fact sheet.
Source: Senator Ed Hernandez