PEORIA — Gov. Bruce Rauner expressed support Friday for new federal rules that would make it easier for states to impose work requirements in order for people to receive Medicaid.
But, he suggested, until more jobs themselves are created in Illinois pursuing such a requirement wouldn't be a priority for him or his administration.
"I do support a work requirement for able-bodied adults in Medicaid and our administration is working on that," Rauner said at a news conference after speaking to small business owners at Bradley University's Peoria Next Innovation Center.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services indicated in a letter earlier in the week to states that the agency would be supportive of considering requests for states crafting policies that required work or other community engagement for people to remain eligible for Medicaid, the federal-state program that helps low-income people receive medical care. Such proposals cannot apply to those who are disabled and on Medicaid.
Indiana and Wisconsin have requests pending with the agency already, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, and Kentucky also has one likely to be approved in coming days. Such inquiries are not new to the current administration, but received less traction under the Obama administration.
In Illinois, though, Rauner said "our first challenge is to make sure we've got jobs — good jobs — available for everyone.
"We don't have jobs available for everyone and that's got to be our priority, because trying to force people to work but if there's no work opportunity, that's not going to succeed," he added.
Asked if he would push for a work requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Rauner, who is seeking re-election in the fall, reiterated a laundry list of other items he said he would prioritize first: reforming regulatory burdens, dropping the income tax rate and giving local governments more control over addressing property tax burdens.
Chris Kaergard covers politics and government. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 686-3255. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisKaergard.