Federal waivers grant S.C. right to impose work requirements for Medicaid

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Thousands of families in South Carolina could lose access to life-saving healthcare.

On Thursday, Governor Henry McMaster announced the state was granted 2 federal waivers that would establish work requirements for Medicaid recipients. The change would require adults to work, volunteer or take educational classes for up to 80 hours a month.

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According to South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, the changes could mean up to 14,000 people could lose their Medicaid eligibility.

2 years ago, Sarah Tellier’s husband passed away unexpectedly.

“He was working on the truck and died in our driveway,” she told 7News.

The young mother was left to raise her 2 daughters alone.

“Now my daughter who is 4 she was recently diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes,” Tellier said. “Being a single mom, I definitely can’t, I have to have Medicaid in order to get all of her insulin.”

Tellier says she sells makeup from home and works around 20 hours a week, but her take-home pay is not enough. She says insulin for her oldest daughter costs upwards of $700 dollars a month.

“Do you think that without Medicaid you could afford your daughter’s treatment?” Asked 7News Reporter Stefany Bornman.

“No,” Tellier said.

As of Thursday, the Governor announced South Carolina became the 10th state to impose Medicaid work requirements.

“This is an opportunity to help people find a pathway out of poverty and also provide them with the healthcare that they need,” said Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.

Critics argue the work requirement violates the basis of Medicaid, which is to help families with limited incomes pay for healthcare.

“I would especially for lower-income, who need healthcare to lose their healthcare because barriers are being put up in front of them,” said Appleseed Legal Justice Center Director Sue Berkowitz.

The waivers do include exemptions for people who are the primary caregivers for children under 18 or disabled adults.

Tellier thinks working should still be a requirement.

“My mom has always said that nothing comes for free,” she said. “You have to work for everything that you have.”

The South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson issued the following statement:

“Our governor has sentenced people in South Carolina to death,” Trav Robertson said. “The Trump administration, who granted this waiver, has given permission to Henry McMaster to rip healthcare away from South Carolinians. Potentially tens of thousands of insured South Carolinians will completely lose access to affordable and life-saving healthcare for no reason other than Henry’s attempt to sure up his base. States that received these waivers have had to go through lengthy, expensive legal battles to protect them. The last thing South Carolina needs is Henry McMaster using people’s lives as political tools. How does he canvas in communities like Belle Meade, looking for votes when he is denying access to healthcare in communities of color and rural SC? This will not only hurt people who lose their jobs but will take coverage away from children whose parents can’t work.”

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, more information will be released over the next few months.

As of October, more than 930,000 South Carolinians receive Medicaid.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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