After a year of threats to the Affordable Care Act, tax legislation that explodes the wealth gap, and increased pressure to further cut safety net services, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) announced a misguided Medicaid policy: work requirements.

Work requirements are just words, not supports. Access to health care, food support, child care, and transportation has long been part of the recipe for helping people get and stay employed. When employment or better pay is out of reach, these work supports help people get work and stay afloat. As advocates for employment opportunities for people who struggle to find jobs and better pay, we look to members of Congress and the administration to support strategies to keep people employed, rather than administrative hoops that will take away healthcare when someone can’t find work.

Medicaid, in particular, has proven to be a successful strategy for promoting health, supporting workers, and moving people out of poverty.  The planned policy change appears to be based on ideology or ignorance.

Medicaid does not deter people from working. In fact, it helps keep people working.

According to both the Ohio Department of Medicaid and University of Michigan, Medicaid has a positive impact on an individual’s ability to find and keep a job. A University of Michigan study concluded that 55% of Medicaid enrollees who were out of work found it easier to find a job, and 69% were more productive at work. Moreover, those who can work already do. In Illinois, 65% of non-disabled adults on Medicaid are working part or full time.

It’s debatable whether the Medicaid program would be a good access point for employment and training services. But this isn’t debatable: there are not enough employment and training programs to serve everyone who would be subject to these work requirements. This policy change does not include increased workforce development funding for training and education services. In fact, CMMS policy explicitly prohibits Medicaid funds from being used for workforce development and training programs.

Individuals need healthy bodies and minds to work. Work requirements on Medicaid would try to reverse this equation, with disastrous consequences. Unlike work requirements, accessible healthcare expands opportunities and possibilities for workers and families. The administration has set a dangerous precedent by threatening the very supports that help people find and keep employment. Millions will face red tape and draconian requirements that threaten their health and economic security. The Jobs Council is focused on strategies–including access to healthcare–that keep people working, and we fiercely oppose these harmful work requirements.



Sources:

“No New Federal Funds for Workforce Services for People at Risk of Losing Medicaid”, CLASP

Ohio Medicaid Group VIII Assessment: A Report from the Ohio General Assembly” The Ohio Department of Medicaid

Medicaid Expansion Helped Enrollees Do Better at Work or in Job Searches” University of Michigan


Additional Reading:


No Work, No Medicaid? Illinois reviews new federal guidelines”, Chicago Tribune

Ten States to Seek Work Requirements for Medicaid Recipients”, NPR Illinois

Focus on Skill Building, Not Work Requirements”, National Skills Coalition



For further questions, contact maya@cjc.net.