October 10,2019

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Wyden, Pallone Reveal Study Showing Trump Admin Not Protecting Taxpayer Dollars From Wasteful Medicaid Experiments

GAO Study Shows Minimal Oversight by CMS as Trump Administration Approves Medicaid Waivers that Hurt Vulnerable Americans, Create Needless Bureaucracy

Non-Partisan Report Comes As Appellate Court Prepares to Hear Oral Arguments on Legality of Kentucky and Arkansas Medicaid Work Requirements Case

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., D-N.J., released a study today showing taxpayers are footing the bill for millions in administrative costs for harmful work requirements with little oversight from the Trump administration.

The study, produced by the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO), was in response to a letter Wyden and Pallone sent last year asking the federal oversight agency to detail the costs of implementing harmful proposals in Medicaid, like work requirements and other eligibility restrictions on beneficiaries.

“This study confirms that the Trump administration is allowing states to waste taxpayer dollars in the pursuit of ideological changes to Medicaid that hurt vulnerable Americans,” Wyden and Pallone said. “These burdensome paperwork requirements harm working families trying to make ends meet, tying them up in red tape and depriving them of critical health care. This report is yet another sign that Medicaid work requirements have been a boondoggle from the start and should be ended immediately.” 

The GAO study found that administering these waivers was estimated to cost anywhere from $10 million to over $250 million in each of the five states studied. The agency also found several weaknesses in Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ oversight of federal funds to states for administering work requirements, adding more unnecessary costs to federal taxpayers. The results from this study show that these proposals harm American taxpayers rather than delivering on Medicaid’s statutory mandate to provide affordable health care to the vulnerable.

Last year, Wyden and Pallone told the Trump administration not to move forward with work requirements submitted by states like Kentucky and Arkansas, warning that such programs would create barriers for vulnerable Americans in need of essential care. The two lawmakers also said the state proposals were illegal and threatened longstanding congressional intent for the Medicaid program. In March, a federal judge vacated the Trump administration’s approval of the work requirements in Kentucky and Arkansas. Tomorrow, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments as the Trump administration continues to push for these harmful proposals.

Access the full GAO report here.