Medicaid work requirements dropped in debt ceiling deal

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have reached a deal to avoid breaching the federal debt ceiling, and the legislation eschews Medicaid work requirements.

The bill (PDF), if passed, would avert a default for the first time in U.S. history. A GOP-led debt ceiling plan would have rolled out work requirements for people with Medicaid coverage, though those have been dropped in the agreement between the president and McCarthy.

In a statement Saturday, Biden urged both chambers of Congress to quickly pass the bill, as an early June deadline for default looms.

"It is an important step forward that reduces spending while protecting critical programs for working people and growing the economy for everyone," he said.

Medicaid work requirements have been a long-time Republican priority. The most recent iteration would have required that certain adults aged 18 to 55 either work or perform other allowed activities, such as job training or community services, for at least 80 hours per month to maintain their benefits.

An analysis from KFF found that 1.7 million people could have been booted from the program under this model, due in large part to administrative hurdles with the reporting requirements. The organization noted that 90% of Medicaid enrollees currently work.

While the bill does nix work requirements, it claws back $30 billion in unspent COVID-19 funding, which could lead some federal agencies to tighten their belts.

Though the government is on a tight timeline to get the package through to avoid default, the deal has drawn ire from certain Republicans. For instance, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, tweeted that conservatives "have been sold out once again" in the plan.