March 22, 2018

Another Reason Medicaid Work Requirements Make No Sense: The Reality of Low Wage Work

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Medicaid work requirements continue to be popular, with support from the Administration and multiple states going down this path. Typically, they require people to work a minimum number of hours per week to maintain Medicaid coverage. Failure to meet those minimums will result in loss of coverage, and in some states, being locked out from Medicaid for multiple months.

This would be a foolish path for state lawmakers to pursue, especially since Florida Medicaid covers very few non-elderly adults and most are already working. Although lawmakers did not approve work requirements during the legislative session that just ended, this issue is likely to be resurrected.

A recent blog from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families highlights more reasons why such a proposal must be rejected. Medicaid work requirements are out of touch with reality, as Americans in low wage jobs and the “gig” economy have little or no control over their weekly work hours and schedules. This is particularly true in Florida, where most job growth has been in the low wage service sector, including hotel and restaurant workers,  cashiers, child care providers and home care aides.

Do we really want to add to the burden of struggling working Florida families? Not only are they facing the stress of unstable employment but also the possibility of losing health care coverage.  These families deserve better than harsh policy not grounded in the reality of modern day work.

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