Nov. 1 (UPI) -- In an election in which he faces a Democratic challenger, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker received federal approval to impose a work requirement for Medicaid coverage.
The new requirement to get the coverage -- called BadgerCsre Plus, Wisconsin's largest Medicaid program -- applies to healthy people with no dependent children under the age of 50. Recipients must be out of work for four years, and cannot be disabled or a caregiver.
The new mandate affects 178,000 childless adults under 50 with incomes below the poverty line. They will have to spend a minimum of 20 hours a week working, going through job training, volunteering or participating in other qualifying activities to qualify for the government health benefits.
"We want to remove barriers to work and make it easier to get a job, while making sure public assistance is available for those who truly need it," Walker said in a statement Wednesday.
The Trump administration signed off on the requirement Wednesday.
"We're removing barriers to work to help Wisconsinites transition from government dependence to true independence!" Walker said in a tweet.
The incumbent Republican governor faces a challenge from Wisconsin school Supt. Tony Evers, who has not yet weighed in on the work requirement issue.
Arkansas, Indiana and New Hampshire have similar work requirements and several other states are asking for federal approval for similar measures. A plan by Kentucky was struck down in court and Arkansas also faces a legal challenge.
The Trump administration has said work requirements for Medicaid are intended to help Americans become self-sufficient and provide a way out of poverty. Wisconsin's unemployment rate has hovered around 3 percent for about a year.
"We will not retreat from this position," Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, said. "What this means is that there are real, life-changing opportunities available to help lift individuals out of the shadows of opportunity into its light."