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(The Center Square) – Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine wants Attorney General Dave Yost to take whatever legal steps necessary to reestablish the state’s Medicaid work requirements after the Biden administration eliminated them last month.

The Trump administration approved work requirements in 2019 after the General Assembly passed legislation in 2017 that compelled the state to establish them as the Medicaid population expanded. The Biden administration, however, had said in February it planned to remove the federal government’s permission and made good on the promise in early August.

“Removing a provision that says a healthy, able-bodied individual should be working, looking for work, participating in job training, or participating in a recovery program in order to receive free taxpayer-funded health care is contrary to Ohioans’ values,” DeWine said. “Eliminating reasonable requirements discourages people from becoming self-sufficient and only reinforces government dependency. Ohio’s program would offer assistance when Ohioans need it, while providing opportunities for future success.”

The requirements need federal approval but were delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic before finally being eliminated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services when it removed Ohio’s waiver.

That decision also received criticism from U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

“The Biden administration’s decision is extremely disappointing. Work requirements provide much-needed flexibility in the Medicaid system to provide greater well-being and self-sufficiency to individuals who are able to work while slowing the growth rate of Medicaid and thus the burden on taxpayers,” Portman said. “I will continue to advocate for bipartisan common-sense solutions to address the affordability of health care and the long-term budget implications of Medicaid on the state and federal level.”

DeWine’s decision to appeal drew praise from Columbus-based think tank The Buckeye Institute, which called the work requirement a benefit Ohioans.

“Governor DeWine’s call to appeal the Biden Administration’s misguided decision to withdraw approval of Ohio’s Medicaid work and community engagement waiver is not only in keeping with Ohioans’ values, it will – if successful – benefit the thousands of healthy, able-bodied individuals who will remain connected to the workforce, gain new skills and valuable work experience, and – as The Buckeye Institute’s research shows – will find better job opportunities and earn more money throughout their lives,” Rea Hederman Jr., executive director of the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute and vice president of policy, said in a statement.

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.