Trump administration mulls lifetime Medicaid coverage caps

The Trump administration is considering a Medicaid policy change that could be even bigger than its support for imposing work requirements on beneficiaries.

At least five states have applied for waivers that would allow them to implement lifetime Medicaid coverage limits, according to an article from McClatchy’s D.C. Bureau. Those states are Arizona, Kansas, Utah, Maine and Wisconsin.

The Department of Health and Human Services declined to comment on the pending applications when queried by the publication. But if those waivers are approved, it would be a first for Medicaid, turning the program into temporary assistance rather than a permanent entitlement.

It would also fit in with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma’s vision for “modernizing” Medicaid—which involves giving states more authority to test policies that could help lift beneficiaries out of poverty. To that end, her department has already approved waivers from Kentucky and Indiana that require certain beneficiaries to work or pay premiums in order to receive benefits.

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That conservative approach has been met with criticism from some who claim it unfairly burdens people who are already struggling and depend on the access to care that Medicaid provides. In addition, some Kentucky Medicaid beneficiaries have challenged that state’s waiver with a federal lawsuit.

However, Verma hit back at the critics in an op-ed published this week in The Washington Post, writing that it’s “unfortunate” some believe low-income Americans aren’t capable of contributing to their communities.

“It is even more shameful that they would dress up this unflattering view of their fellow citizens in the guise of compassion,” she wrote. “True compassion is lifting Americans most in need out of difficult circumstances.”