Remember when then-candidate Donald Trump assuredvoters that he would not cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid? Apparently, this was just one of countless broken promises. Although he has not yet imposed any explicit cuts, on Thursday, the Trump administration took another step toward undercutting these essential social programs: It issued guidanceallowing states to impose work requirements on Medicaid beneficiaries. This staggering and unprecedented change in health-care policy is expected to adversely affect millions of people in the United States, particularly those with disabilities.
Republicans have unwaveringly asserted that work requirements will only apply to people who are “able-bodied.” This claim is simply untrue. The disability exception promulgated in the new rules only covers people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). In other words, anyone who has a disability and does not receive SSI or SSDI would likely need to adhere to the new work requirements, should their state implement them.
“While [Thursday’s] guidance exempts people on SSI and SSDI from work requirements, millions of other people with disabilities access the [Medicaid] program on the basis of income or other non-disability characteristics,” Ari Ne’eman, an Obama administration appointee to the National Council on Disability and author of a forthcoming book from Simon & Schuster on the history of disability in the United States, told Rewire.
To receive SSI or SSDI, a person must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) stringent definition of disability: “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” Put differently, one’s disability must be deemed so significant that they are unable to work in any type of job.