Medicaid works, work requirements don’t
Posted February 06, 2018 in Press Releases
The vast majority of Medicaid enrollees are working, looking for work, caring for an ill family member, or are ill, injured or disabled themselves. Yet the Ohio Department of Medicaid is preparing to ask the federal government for permission to impose work requirements on hundreds of thousands. A new Policy Matters Ohio new fact sheet outlines ways work requirements create barriers to health care for those it is supposed to help.
In Ohio, 61 percent of Medicaid enrollees work full time or part time. Work requirements can wreak havoc on those workers, because hours in Ohio’s most common low-wage jobs, like fast food, retail, and janitorial, often vary and may be seasonal. Workers who don’t get enough hours could lose Medicaid coverage through no fault of their own under a work requirement.
“Ohio’s Medicaid enrollees don’t need mandates to encourage them to work,” said fact sheet author Wendy Patton, Senior Project Director. “The data show that by and large, those who can, already are. This policy will end up kicking people out of medical care and making it harder for them to work, not easier.”
Work requirements can be particularly hard on people who are disabled, ill or injured. Twenty-two percent of Medicaid enrollees in Ohio report that they are not able to work for health reasons, yet if work requirements are imposed, Medicaid gives no funding to allow administrators to assess health condition of enrollees. Another 12 percent of enrollees in Ohio’s Medicaid program are caregivers to an incapacitated family member, and 5 percent are looking for work, students, or retirees.
“The federal government has not allowed Medicaid to be linked to work until now, because that is not the purpose of the program,” said Patton. “In fact, a work requirement works against the Medicaid goal of expanding health care to low-income people.”