Should people on Medicaid be required to work?

Should people on Medicaid be required to work?
July 07 11:00 2017

Senate Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace Obamacare has put Medicaid in the spotlight, thanks to proposals including a move to let states impose work requirements on low-income recipients.

Medicaid “went way above the poverty line to many able-bodied Americans,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told ABC News program “This Week” on Sunday. “If they are able-bodied and they want to work, then they’ll have employer-sponsored benefits like you and I do.”

Yet most Medicaid recipients who can work already are working even without such a requirement, according to data from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which notes that almost 8 of 10 adults in the federal health care program are in working families. Working-age adults who are on Medicaid, but not working or looking for work, tend to be disabled, caring for a family member, attending school or suffering from a temporary health problem.

The problem, in some conservatives’ view, is that expanding Medicaid under Obamacare raised the income ceiling for coverage to include the working poor, which expanded the rolls and added to the program’s costs for taxpayers.

Yet Conway’s comment that Medicaid recipients should seek new jobs with health care coverage seemingly ignores that many Americans on Medicaid are working for employers who can’t or won’t pay for health care coverage.

Walmart (WMT), for instance, by one estimate is said to cost taxpayers $6.2 billion in subsidies from programs such as Medicaid and food stamps, since many of its low-wage workers must rely on government programs to make ends meet. While Walmart is often singled out for this phenomenon, it’s far from alone. Only 46 percent of private sector businesses offered health insurance to their workers in 2015, according to the Kaiser foundation.

That means many low-wage workers are turning to Uncle Sam for health care insurance through Medicaid. But if those Americans are already earning their daily bread, then what’s the harm of putting in a work requirement? The administrative burden on states to track whether their Medicaid recipients were working “would be expensive to enforce,” according to The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group focused on health care.

“Work requirements could trigger enrollment denials and delays or increase coverage interruptions that in turn endanger the health of people in need of medical care,” the foundation noted. ..

Read full story at CBS News
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