Trump’s chief Medicaid officer just resigned after overseeing controversial overhaul

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Another senior Trump administration official is quitting a high profile post, as the the ranks continue to dwindle for the beleaguered president.

Brian Neale, the Trump administration’s top Medicaid official, abruptly announced his resignation Tuesday.  Neale is the deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and staff at CMS were informed of his looming departure today.

“Next month, Brian will be leaving CMS to pursue other opportunities, and I wanted to write today and recognize the extraordinary dedication Brian brought to the job and our team, and thank him for his tireless service to the agency,” Seema Verma, the Trump-appointed Administrator of CMS, wrote in an all staff email Tuesday

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The timing of Neale’s departure is peculiar, to say the least.  CMS is in the middle of a massive overall of its programs as President Trump tries to institute draconian work requirements for medicaid recipients.

Medicaid was designed to provide the poorest Americans with basic healthcare, and Republicans have been attempting to attach a work requirement to it since it was established over 50 years ago.  Earlier this month, President Trump paved the way for States to impose work requirements on its citizens who receive Medicaid.

As Politico reported, CMS sent a letter to state Medicaid directors that outlined new guidelines the administration would follow to evaluate state work requirement proposals.  These guidelines allow states to require, “able-bodied, working-age Medicaid enrollees to get a job or participate in a related activity like job training for at least 20 hours a week in order to keep their health coverage.”

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While Neale’s sudden departure from CMS might appear like a protest resignation, Administrator Verma made it clear in her email today that her deputy administrator played a central role instituting the new work requirement guidelines.

“We expect more states to take advantage of the new demonstration opportunity to promote community engagement among Medicaid beneficiaries, a policy Brian improved significantly as he guided its development,” she wrote.

As many as 11 states have sent work requirement schemes for Medicaid recipients to CMS so far, and all but one of them are states that Trump won in 2016.  Only one state, Kentucky, has had their proposal approved, though watchdog groups expect more to follow soon.

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Peter Mellado

Peter Mellado is a writer, producer, and a branding and messaging specialist with over 15 years experience. He studied history at San Jose State University, and resides in Los Angeles.

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