Trump administration mulls next Medicaid lawsuit bait—lifetime limits

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While Republicans are generally utterly incapable of making policy, they are extremely creative when it comes to unmaking it, as long as the unmaking involves hurting and humiliating poor people. A whole bunch of Republican states have been champing at the bit to figure out how to make life as hellish as possible for people on Medicaid, and now they’ve got a president who they think will let them do it.

Several states have requested that the Trump administration let them impose lifetime limits on Medicaid enrollment. The administration is mulling the possibility now, perhaps hesitating only because they would definitely end up back in court.

No state has ever put a limit on how long a person can receive Medicaid benefits. But given that the Trump administration has already shown a willingness to approve conservative policies like work requirements, premiums and lockout periods for Medicaid, many experts and advocates think lifetime limits could also win approval.

Critics of lifetime limits say they would fundamentally shift Medicaid from a health care safety net program for the poor and sick to a welfare program.

“It’s clear that [the administration] view[s] Medicaid not as a health insurance program. They are hopeful to get as many people off the program and off public assistance as possible,” said Jessica Schubel, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. […]

To date, five states — Maine, Arizona, Utah, Wisconsin and Kansas — have applied for waivers from the Department of Health and Human Services to put a cap on how long Medicaid beneficiaries can receive health benefits. […]

“This strikes me as lawsuit bait. I suspect this could be a bridge too far,” said Jocelyn Guyer, a consultant with Manatt Health. “Work requirements are also a sweeping change, and this is a step beyond. This seems like it would be asking for more litigation and controversy and trouble.”