Today’s News & Commentary — January 12, 2018

Alexa Kissinger

Alexa Kissinger is a student at Harvard Law School.

The Trump administration announced Thursday it would allow states to impose work requirements in Medicaid. According to The New York Times, this large policy shift toward a more conservative vision for Medicaid will provide waivers to states that wish to condition benefits on work requirements. Federal officials told reporters they would support waivers for state efforts requiring “able-bodied adults to work or participate in other ‘community engagement activities’ as a condition of eligibility for Medicaid.” CMS has received requests for 10 states, given the OK for Kentucky to impose such policies, and has released guidance for states. The legality of such policies rests on the contention that work requirements make participants healthier, which falls under the Medicaid statute’s purpose of improving health. Although some critics have written that there is not strong evidence for that view.

Wal-Mart made two large employee-related announcements: First, the company said it is planning to raise the minimum wage to $11, expand employee benefits, and offer workers bonuses of up to $1,000. The company also announced it will be closing 63 Sam’s Club stores, impacting some 9,400 employees. Ten of the stores will be converted to e-commerce distribution centers and the other 53 will close in a few weeks.

Transit workers in Greece went on strike over a bill pending in parliament that would reduce benefits and make it more difficult to call a strike. The Athens metro shut down, impacting some 938,000 commuters, ships were unable to sail as workers walked out, and state-run hospitals had to use reserve staff as doctors and staff stood up. The strike is expected to continue on Monday as the bill comes to the floor of parliament.

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