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Gov. Henry McMaster, CMS Administrator Verma Announce Launch of Healthy Connections Community Engagement Initiative

December 12, 2019

GREENVILLE, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster was joined today by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, S.C. Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS) Director Joshua D. Baker, and stakeholders from around South Carolina to announce that CMS has approved South Carolina’s application to add community engagement requirements for qualifying Medicaid members.

Additionally, Governor McMaster issued Executive Order 2019-39, which establishes the “State Community Engagement Implementation Task Force” to initiate implementation of the new requirements. The Task Force will provide coordination for the efforts of the several agencies and entities necessary to implement this initiative.

“South Carolina’s economy is booming, wages are up, and our unemployment rate is at an all-time low at 2.6%,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “Competition for workers is fierce and businesses are struggling to fill vacancies. In this economy there is no excuse for the able bodied not to be working. Through collaboration with our federal partners we have designed an innovative initiative that will improve health outcomes while also addressing our state’s workforce needs.”

“In a spirit of humility – recognizing that Washington D.C. does not hold all the answers – the Trump Administration has sought at every turn to grant states flexibility in shaping their Medicaid programs,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “When actually given the opportunity, states have real solutions to offer. Medicaid is stronger for that sort of robust federal-state cooperation. South Carolina’s requirements – complete with appropriate protections – will lift South Carolinians out of poverty by encouraging as many as possible to participate in the booming Trump economy.”

“SCDHHS looks forward to advancing its mission to purchase the most health for our citizens in need at the least possible cost to the taxpayer through the Healthy Connections Community Engagement Initiative,” said SCDHHS Director Joshua D. Baker. “These waivers reinforce Governor McMaster’s commitment to combating the opioid crisis, building strong and resilient communities and promoting individual self-sustainability. I thank Administrator Verma and her team for the flexibility to implement state-driven solutions for South Carolina’s communities.”

In January of 2018, Governor McMaster directed SCDHHS to seek federal waivers to establish work requirements for South Carolina’s Medicaid recipients after CMS Administrator Verma announced guidelines allowing states to pursue efforts to establish incentives and requirements for steady employment by able-bodied adults.

The approved section 1115 Medicaid demonstration waivers include the state’s “Healthy Connections Community Engagement Initiative and the “Palmetto Pathways to Independence Initiative.” These initiatives will allow the state to promote healthier outcomes and incentivize able bodied adults to gain financial independence through 80 hours of monthly work, job training, education or community service. 

SCDHHS has provided a list of resources to help Healthy Connections Medicaid, and potential Healthy Connections Medicaid members, learn more about the initiative and find opportunities to engage in their communities online at

The waivers granted by CMS can be found here: State Waivers List