New York State Approves Plans to Expand Medicaid

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New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Monday that he had signed into law a measure intended to extend Medicaid coverage to as many as 400,000 adults. The measure, called the New York State Medicaid Access Workforce Expansion, also seeks to help in-need New Yorkers become better employees, with a $300,000 stipend per person.

The new law, Mr. Cuomo said, would better enable adults between the ages of 18 and 64 — typically those with children — to “stand on their own” with better health care. “They can be involved in their communities, support their children, do the things they need to do. They can actually earn enough to pay taxes and become more financially independent,” he said, in comments broadcast on NY1.

Mr. Cuomo’s plan mirrored one put forward by the Administration for Children and Families in May, before the federal government’s decision to declare it ineligible for a federal work requirement for Medicaid recipients.

In total, four states are seeking to expand their Medicaid programs. Maryland’s law aims to eliminate state funding for work requirements, while the other two, Massachusetts and Vermont, are moving ahead with a $1,000 per-month stipend that serves as their Medicaid work requirement.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston and the University of Massachusetts, along with a Vermont nonprofit have created an “employment improvement network” focused on increasing opportunities for adults, which leverages public, private and philanthropic resources, and addresses the need for new technology.

In a statement, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said he would study Mr. Cuomo’s plan closely, “but, without action from Washington, that opportunity — and its benefits — remains outside of the reach of thousands of hardworking Massachusetts residents.”

Mr. Baker said that he had encouraged Washington to work with states to expand Medicaid more broadly to cover all uninsured adults.

In recent years, states seeking to modify Medicaid eligibility have been promised flexibility from the federal government to design work requirements, without losing expanded federal funds. But with the federal government moving ahead with a plan to gradually increase work requirements — but without details on how the change would play out for poor beneficiaries, or whether it would include measures intended to improve employment — many states are dismayed at the prospect of being coerced into modifying their programs.

“New York is taking a bold step to create greater access to job training and skills,” Janice Hough, the executive director of the National Workforce Alliance, an umbrella organization of labor unions and faith-based groups, said in a statement. “This requirement provides an opportunity for hardworking adults who are currently unemployed to develop skills and discover new paths toward economic opportunity.”

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