Iowa State Capitol Rotunda
Photo Credit: Angelo Mercado via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

The Iowa Senate passed SF 538, a bill that provides work requirements for Iowa’s Medicaid recipients, by a party-line 32 to 17 vote.

“Expecting able-bodied adults on Medicaid to work, volunteer, or go to school is a common-sense policy,” Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver (R-Ankeny) said. “With the lowest unemployment rate in the country, nearly every sector of the Iowa economy needs workers and this bill can bring additional people into the workforce.”

The legislation directs the Iowa Department of Human Services to request a waiver from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to implement a community engagement requirement in the program. The Trump Administration encouraged states to seek waivers to improve their Medicaid programs. Eight states have seen their waivers approved. Four states are set to implement their plan this year, but in two states – Arkansas and Kentucky – courts have blocked the implementation of the program. Seven additional states have waivers pending.

If SF 538 passes and the waiver request granted, the state requires Medicaid recipients to work 20-hours a week, participate and comply with the requirements of a work program for 20-hours-a-week, a combination of work and work program equaling 20-hours-a-week, or volunteer for 20-hours-a-week.

The bill provides exceptions. For instance, pregnant women, mentally or physically disabled persons, caretakers of children younger than six-years-of-age, a caretaker of a dependent with a serious medical condition or disability, unemployment insurance recipients meeting work requirements, addiction treatment patients, homeschooling parents, full-time students, and caregivers of adult dependents with a serious medical condition do not have to fulfill the work requirements.

“It is a reasonable expectation for people on Medicaid who are able, to work,” State Senator Jason Schultz (R-Schleswig), floor manager of the bill, said. “The goal of this bill is to encourage people to become educated, start a career, and improve their lives and the lives of their children.” 

“Medicaid work requirements is the third welfare reform bill to pass the Iowa Senate this year,” Whitver added. “I look forward to moving additional bills through the Senate to expand our workforce and encourage people to move from welfare to work.”

The Iowa Senate also passed SF 305 and SF 484 to improve public assistance programs in Iowa. SF 484 created a crime of fraudulent possession of EBT cards. SF 305 required SNAP recipients to cooperate with Child Support Recovery in order to receive food assistance. 

Photo Credit: Angelo Mercado via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

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