Mary Mayhew, a Maine official who shepherded work requirements for food stamps in the state, has been appointed to a top role at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, where she will be responsible for overseeing health programs for low-income people.
Mayhew is joining the agency as the Trump administration is working to expand work requirements in the Medicaid program. Under the proposals, approved in a handful of states, certain low-income people who are covered by Medicaid would need to work, take classes, or volunteer as a condition of staying enrolled in the program.
Mayhew oversaw the rollout of food stamp work requirements in 2014, when she was commissioner for Health and Human Services under GOP Gov. Paul LePage. Mayhew co-authored an opinion piece on Fox News earlier this year with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich praising the Trump administration's push to add work requirements to more welfare programs and close exemptions.
Prior to joining the LePage administration, Mayhew was a lobbyist representing the Maine Hospital Association.
According to the Bangor Daily News, Mayhew had “preliminary conversations” when President Trump took office with officials interested in hiring her as an administrator of the food stamp program, but she told them she wanted to run for Maine's governor.
She failed to gain the Republican nomination, however, and is taking up the helm at CMS, replacing Brian Neale, who left in January. Tim Hill had been working as acting director. Her official title would be deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.
Neale had approved the first Medicaid work requirement in Kentucky, which was later blocked by a judge. The Trump administration has approved other programs in Arkansas, Indiana, and New Hampshire. The one in Arkansas is the only one that has taken effect, causing more than 8,000 people to be dropped from the program.
At least eight other states — Arizona, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, and Wisconsin — have pending requests for similar work requirements.
The Medicaid program is set to be expanded in Maine under Obamacare to people making less than roughly $16,000 a year, but it's being held up by LePage despite court orders. The expansion advanced through a ballot measure that passed a year ago, and when it moves forward an estimated 70,000 Mainers are expected to be enrolled in Medicaid.
Because LePage’s term is ending, the implementation of Medicaid expansion in Maine is likely to fall to his successor. On the Democratic ticket is the state’s attorney general, Janet Mills, who supports expansion, but she is running against Republican Shawn Moody, a business owner who has suggested he will take a similar approach to LePage and hold up expansion until the state's portion is funded.