Trump administration will allow states to test Medicaid work requirements

U.S. President Donald Trump attends the Women in Healthcare panel hosted by Seema Verma (R), Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2017.

By Yasmeen Abutaleb

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration said on Thursday it would allow states to test requiring some Medicaid recipients to work or participate in community activities such as volunteering or jobs training as a condition of eligibility for the government health insurance program for the poor.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidance making it easier for states to design and propose test programs that implement such requirements. States must propose such changes through waivers and receive federal approval.

Seema Verma, the agency’s administrator, said the policy guidance came in response to requests from at least 10 states that have proposed requiring some Medicaid recipients to work or participate in activities that may include skills training, education, job search, volunteering or caregiving. Those states include Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Arizona, Indiana and Utah.

Certain Medicaid populations would be exempt from the rules, including those with disabilities, the elderly, children and pregnant women. Verma also said states would have to make “reasonable modifications” for those battling opioid addiction and other substance use disorders.

“This gives us a pathway to start approving waivers,” Verma said on a call with reporters on Wednesday. “This is about helping those individuals rise out of poverty.”

Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement commonly known as Obamacare, 31 states expanded Medicaid to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, adding millions of people to the rolls.

Republicans have repeatedly failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, a top campaign promise of President Donald Trump. Instead, the Trump administration has sought to weaken the program through executive orders and administrative rules.

The Obama administration opposed state efforts to implement work requirements in Medicaid because it could result in fewer people having access to health insurance.

For instance, Kentucky last year proposed work requirements for able-bodied adults to get insurance and establishing new fees for all members based on income. A study found the proposal would reduce the number of residents on Medicaid by nearly 86,000 within five years, saving more than $330 million.

Republicans argue that Medicaid was created to serve the most vulnerable and has become bloated under Obamacare. Verma and other Republicans said implementing work and community engagement requirements could help improve health outcomes by connecting people with jobs and training.

(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Church Revitalizes Gang-Infested School

An inner city Portland, Oregon school that at one time was scheduled to be closed because of gang violence and under performing students is now thriving after a partnership with a local church.

“Roosevelt High School was well known as the most under-resourced and failing school in the state. It had become a metaphor for failure, with a capital ‘F,”‘ Pastor Kip Jacob of SouthLake Church in West Linn told The Christian Post.

The school was once part of a thriving community until the late 1980s when members of the Bloods and Crips gangs moved north from Los Angeles in an attempt to extend their criminal enterprise.   The church’s facilities and grounds crumbled and it became almost impossible for students to focus on their education with the rising crime level.

Then in 2008, SouthLake Church partnered with Roosevelt to turn around the culture of the area.

“When the opportunity for that first work day came, people rallied and communicated to the kids that they are really worth it,” Pastor Jacob told CP. “That is one of the things that has been so exciting for us to see is that it has led to a renaissance of the school and the community.”

The church provides the school with clothes, hygiene products and even food for the students when they need it.  The church members also work with each academic department to see what specific needs they have for their students.

“The clean-up day went so well, the school told us that it was about a $250,000 benefit to the school. That was their evaluation. They just kept inviting us in. The needs were so great,” Jacob said. “We just filled gaps and met needs and they kept inviting us in to do that to the point where they invited us to have a staff person with an office in the school to help coordinate volunteers.”

As a result of the church’s efforts, private businesses have now joined to help the school.

“I think what happened is the church was able to be a catalyst for others to come in, businesses to come in,” Jacob said. “Nike came on board once they saw the momentum and said, ‘We can build a [turf] football field,’ and they did. Then another business came in and built a track, the best track in the Portland area. It just really rallied the community around the common good of the kids.”

Doctors Head To Africa For International Volunteer Day

On World Volunteer Day, December 5th, two doctors with international missions group SIM are heading to Africa to serve in hospitals treating patients with Ebola.

International Volunteer Day was established by the United Nations in 1985 as a way to encourage volunteerism around the globe.  SIM International focuses on helping people around the world and Dr. Dan Crawford of SIM said he’s excited to help those in need in Africa.

“We feel like we are well prepared,” Dr. Crawford told USA Headline News.  “You can’t be completely prepared until you are there, but we don’t really feel any great anxiety about the disease itself.  We know we are in God’s hands wherever we are and there are dangers wherever you work.  There is, however, anxiety about going to a new place.”

Dr. Crawford has spent 15 years volunteering monthly at a low-cost clinic in Portland, Oregon.

Dr. John Fankhauser will also be volunteering with SIM’s Ebola mission.  Dr. Fankhauser had been practicing family medicine at the SIM ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia when the Ebola outbreak started.

He has personally been quarantined twice because of possible exposure to Ebola.  He said it’s God’s call on our lives to help those in need and so he has no problem going back after his second quarantine.  He trusts the Lord will plan his days and he trusts in Him.

New L.A. Lakers Player Celebrates By Feeding Homeless

Outspoken Christian NBA player Jeremy Lin celebrated his joining the L.A. Lakers in a way that seems unusual in the world of high-dollar sports.

He fed the homeless.

“Famed shooter Jeremy Lin who was recently acquired by the L.A. Lakers, embraced his new city by serving meals to the homeless today along with teammates Xavier Henry and Laker Girls at The Midnight Mission SoCal’s largest social service provider,” the Midnight Mission shared online.

Lin has previously conducted multiple outreaches in cities where he plays as part of the Jeremy Lin Foundation.  The foundation says their work is “compelled by [Lin’s] relationship with Jesus.”

Lin’s official first interview with the Lakers, posted to the team’s website, had Lin saying that he was going to be playing for God and would let the Lord decide the results and how it will benefit his team and his community.

“When I look back on the past two years, I think I’ve grown and learned a lot as a person, as a Christian and also as a basketball player,” Lin said.