February 21,2019

Press Contact:

Taylor Harvey (Wyden): 202-224-4515      CJ Young (Pallone): 202-225-5735

Wyden, Pallone Call on Trump Administration to Stop Allowing Harmful Medicaid Waivers

Democratic Health Care Leaders Tell Azar to Follow Letter of the Law, Prohibit Harmful Waivers that Throw Americans Off Their Health Care

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., today warned the Trump Administration against the ongoing promotion and approval of harmful Medicaid waivers, citing the significant coverage losses taking place in states like Arkansas and the Administration’s failure to appropriately track or evaluate the impact of the misguided policies.

“Medicaid 1115 waiver demonstrations that adopt restrictive conditions on eligibility like work requirements threaten to impede access to critical care for millions of Americans,” the members wrote. “We unfortunately are now seeing these concerns play out in real life in the state of Arkansas where thousands of individuals have been forced off and locked out of their Medicaid coverage. We urge you once again to faithfully administer the Medicaid program and to put a halt to any and all Section 1115 demonstration requests that jeopardize the health and financial security of millions of low-income Americans.”

The letter, sent to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar comes after the approval and implementation of Arkansas’ Medicaid 1115 waiver leading to more than 18,000 people being kicked off of their Medicaid coverage and a recent report indicating that the Administration is also failing to appropriately track or evaluate the impact of the waivers. The statutory objective of Medicaid is to provide medical assistance to those whose income and resources are insufficient to meet the costs of necessary medical services.

Instead of adhering to the objectives of the Medicaid program, the Trump Administration has used these waivers to create barriers and enable states to take health coverage away from vulnerable Americans who are often working multiple jobs or caring for a loved one. These waivers allow states to impose significant burdens on beneficiaries like locking them out of the program for months at a time and burying them in paperwork month after month to prove they are working – all while these families are working hard day in and day out just to get by.

The full letter can be found here.