Policy Matters testifies against Medicaid work requirements
Posted February 21, 2018 in Press Releases
Earlier this month, the Ohio Department of Medicaid announced plans to ask the federal government for permission to impose work requirements on Medicaid expansion patients. At the first public comment hearing in Cincinnati, Policy Matters Senior Research Director Wendy Patton testified against the proposal, arguing work requirements create unnecessary barriers to care and aren’t effective.
Ohio is applying for a 1115 waiver, which allows the federal government to waive certain provisions of Medicaid so states can test new approaches. Under the Obama administration, 1115 waivers were used to expand access to care. Under the Trump administration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services allow proposals that decrease enrollment. The Ohio waiver would require able bodied people of working age who receive care through Medicaid expansion to work at least 80 hours a month. The state estimates this will cause more than 18,000 people to lose coverage. Many of those people likely already hold low-wage jobs, Patton said.
“Seven of Ohio's 10 largest job categories are so low paying that the average worker with children qualifies for public assistance like Medicaid at the median wage,” she said. “Many low-wage jobs do not regularly schedule workers for 20 hours a week. People who hold these jobs may lose health care if they don’t get the required hours on their schedule, even if they have jobs and request the hours.”
The proposal includes exemptions for many reasons, including disability and other responsibilities, like caregiving. Proving eligibility can be a daunting task for low-income people who likely don’t own a computer to submit the forms online or a car to submit the paperwork in person. The proposal leaves out many groups that should be exempted including self-employed workers, homeless people, and workers with seasonal, intermittent, or flexible hours.
Research from across the nation shows work requirements have not lifted people out of poverty in the long run, Patton said.
“People enrolled in Medicaid who can work, do,” Patton said. “A rigid work requirement can be a barrier to care, even for working people.”