S.C. given federal approval to make some Medicaid recipients work


GREENVILLE (AP) - South Carolina has been given permission to require some people receiving Medicaid to work, volunteer or take job training to keep getting their health care, Gov. Henry McMaster said Thursday.

South Carolina is the 10th state to be granted the waiver, although court challenges have stopped the requirements in three states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Able-bodied Medicaid recipients in South Carolina will be required to work 80 hours a month for pay or as volunteers

The state has about 1 million people on the federal health care program, but about 80% of them are disabled, children or senior citizens who are exempt from the requirements.

South Carolina's booming economy has left some businesses struggling to find workers and the new requirements should fill that need, McMaster said at a Thursday news conference in Greeenville announcing the waiver.

"There is no reason for anyone who can work not to be working, especially if that person is able-bodied and is receiving public assistance," McMaster said. "Without meaningful work, life loses its joy and meaning."

The South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center estimates about 14,000 people could lose their Medicaid benefits and said taking away health care from people doesn't improve the health care system.