Medicaid while you work

It’s a tagline from politicians that we’ve heard before for the Welfare program – and now they have their eyes set on Medicaid.  If you are able bodied to work and you want Medicaid, you better find employment or be in a work training program.

Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price recently notified governors that the federal government will approve state waivers to the Medicaid program for “meritorious” programs – basically prioritizing beneficiaries who have jobs.  The now stalled House GOP health care bill also would allow individual states to have a work requirement for adults applying for Medicaid.

The problem with this thinking is that the majority of Medicaid recipients are already employed.  Nearly 60% of Medicaid beneficiaries work either full or part time.  Why are they uninsured you ask?  For most of them – their employers do not offer health insurance. The other 40% who aren’t working report reasons such as illnesses, caring for a family member, going to school, or disability.


Work requirements are under discussion in a number of states, and the first test for the Trump administration could come on a pending waiver application by Kentucky. The proposal from Republican Gov. Matt Bevin would allow the state to suspend coverage for able-bodied adults who don’t comply. Job training and caring for a disabled relative would count toward fulfilling the obligation. “Medically frail” people dealing with certain conditions, from substance abuse to cancer, would be exempt.
But critics argue that Medicaid is a health program or “medical assistance” program – not a work program.  And they also point out that although the economy has improved, there aren’t exactly free floating jobs out there.  People in small towns who lost manufacturing jobs – the jobs that the current administration promises to bring back – don’t have many employment opportunities.

About justgngr

the ramblings of a medical professional by day, judgmental ginger by night
This entry was posted in health policy, medicine, politics and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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