Waiver 1115 Information

Section 1115 Medicaid waivers allow states to explore new options for providing health coverage to persons who would otherwise not be eligible and allow states to examine innovative ways to deliver care by waiving certain requirements of the Medicaid Act.

While waivers can be important tools that can help states respond to the needs of low-income individuals, they also present concerns for health advocates working to protect the rights of Medicaid enrollees and promote transparency in state waiver processes.

Sec. 1115 of the Social Security Act allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive some requirements of the Medicaid Act so that states can test novel approaches to improving medical assistance for low-income people.

Under the current administration, several states are seeking waivers to impose harmful cuts and restrictions. The first set of harmful waivers have been approved for Kentucky and Arkansas, with a number of states seeking to enact similar changes to Medicaid. Learn more about Medicaid waivers and how the National Health Law Program is combating the Trump administration’s illegal use of waivers to weaken Medicaid.

View 1115 Waiver Resources By State

results by Ian McDonald in Waivers and Demonstrations.
  • States Should Consider High Costs of Work Requirements

    Multiple courts have held it unlawful to condition Medicaid coverage on a work requirement. Yet, some states continue to consider them. In addition to the litigation history to date, policymakers in those states should consider the practical realities of work requirements. This fact sheet looks at some of the significant costs associated with administering work requirements. (Updated May 2020)

  • Medicaid Work Requirements – Legally Suspect

    Legal Director Jane Perkins, and Policy Analyst Ian McDonald detail why adding a work requirement to Medicaid is "legally suspect." They explain that currently the Medicaid Act has four requirements that an individual must meet that do not include a mandatory work requirement. "A number of courts," Perkins and McDonald write, "have recognized that states may not 'add additional requirements for Medicaid eligibility' that are not set forth in the Medicaid Act." They also note that the purpose of Medicaid is to "furnish medical assistance to low-income individuals who cannot afford the costs of medically necessary services and to furnish 'rehabilitation and other services to help attain or retain capability for independence or self-care. A mandatory work requirement is not medical assistance; it is not a service provided to Medicaid beneficiaries."

  • Medicaid Work Requirements – Not a Healthy Choice

    In an effort to win conservative members' support for the Affordable Care Care Act repeal bill, House Republicans have added a work requirement for Medicaid to the measure. In this issue brief, NHeLP Managing Attorney of the DC office Mara Youdelman,  Legal Director Jane Perkins, and Policy Analyst Ian McDonald detail why such work requirements "run counter to the purpose of Medicaid." They conclude, "Work requirements would stand Medicaid's purpose on its head by creating barriers to coverage and the pathway to health that the coverage represents."

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