Work Requirements for Medicaid “Immoral and Unworkable,” Say Advocates

03.20.2017

For Immediate Release: March 20, 2017                                                                                                                                                                           

Work Requirements for Medicaid “Immoral and Unworkable,” Say Advocates

Provision Similar to Those Already in Place for SNAP (Food Stamp) Benefits

In response to news reports that President Trump and House Republicans have agreed to include in their health care bill requirements that able bodied adults prove they are working in order to receive Medicaid – a provision long in place in the SNAP (formerly called the Food Stamp) Program, Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America, and author of America We Need to Talk: A Self-Help Book for the Nation, issued the following statement:

“Any proposal to require Americans to prove their work status before receiving health treatment is both immoral and unworkable, and would require vast new bureaucratic mechanisms, simply to punish low-income people for the supposed crime of being low-income. Having previously worked for President Clinton on welfare reform, I support the general concept of linking cash assistance to work for healthy adults. But food assistance and health care aren’t welfare. It is immoral to say that people who happen to be temporarily unemployed can’t receive nutrition or health care insurance. Moreover, because workers need to be well-nourished and healthy, denying food and/or health care to unemployed people will only make it more difficult for them to gain steady employment.

Beyond the immorality and counter-productiveness of the proposal, it’s imply unworkable. As the nation has experienced when similar work reporting requirements were applied to the smaller SNAP program, rather than increasing the employment of people needing assistance, the requirements actually forced Americans to take time away from their work and job search activities to travel to government offices to fill out paperwork and/or to waste time in often useless job preparation or job training classes. More government offices and more government employees would be needed to enforce this new bureaucratic nightmare for Medicaid. Ironically, the government would spend far more money enforcing this provision than it would save due to it. When it comes to corporations and the rich, conservatives claim they want government ‘off their backs,’ but when it comes to non-wealthy people, they want governments on their backs, fronts, tops and bottoms. I don’t see the President and Congress calling for work requirements for federal programs that aid the wealthy, such as agribusiness subsidies, business loans, mortgage interest deductions for vacation homes, or corporate welfare. The only reason for this new provision in Medicaid would be to humiliate the non-rich, many of whom voted for Trump.”

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