Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday ordered South Carolina’s Medicaid agency to seek a federal waiver that would allow it to create new work requirements on certain adults who receive the assistance.
The Governor’s Office announced the effort on the same day the Trump administration announced it would make it easier for states to implement the requirements for able-bodied, working-age adults.
“Whenever possible, we should always endeavor to help South Carolinians in need find their path to gainful employment and away from the temporary assistance of government,” McMaster said in a statement. “A good, steady job makes everything better, it creates a better home life, results in healthier lifestyles, and provides financial independence and opportunity.”
The requirements, if approved, would only impact a small percentage of those receiving Medicaid coverage in South Carolina, since the vast majority of those on the program are children, disabled or seniors. They would also not apply to pregnant women.
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services set some guidelines for those states seeking the waivers, including requiring strategies for helping Medicaid recipients meet the new rules, which would include skills training, education, job searches and volunteering for those who do not currently have a job. States must also fully comply with federal disability and civil rights laws.
The governor’s announcement seemed to catch his own agency chief by surprise, however. The state Department of Health and Human Services spokesman would not answer questions Thursday and released a short statement saying, “In the past day, SCDHHS received the work requirement guidance message from CMS and subsequently, the directive from the Governor’s office. We are reviewing both and will be meeting internally and with other state agencies to discuss what a Medicaid Work Requirement for SC Medicaid recipients may include.”