A U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation hearing last Wednesday got very testy very quickly as U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) pressed CMS Administrator Seema Verma to defend the administration-endorsed efforts to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients.
Kennedy cited studies showing that CMS-approved Medicaid work requirement plans in Arkansas led to 18,000 people losing coverage, with other such losses occurring in New Hampshire. He asked Verma to cite a single study showing that work requirements improve health.
When Verma noted that studies may show that employment has a positive influence on health, Kennedy interrupted, saying, “You guys [CMS] run healthcare programs across the country. I am certain you understand the difference between correlation and causation. Healthier people may work. Work doesn’t necessarily make people healthier. You’re imposing policies on millions of people across the country. Can you show me one study that says that is a good policy?”
Verma responded that people want to find a pathway out of poverty.
Kennedy later tweeted, “Medicaid work requirements are just conservative healthcare policy experiments with human subjects … Stop playing with people’s lives.”
Republicans on the committee argued that the hearing was unnecessarily partisan, pointing to its inflammatory title – Sabotage: The Trump Administration’s Attack on Health Care.