Anne Swerlick
April 27, 2017

Florida House Passes Legislation That Would Require Medicaid Recipients to Work

This post was last updated on July 22, 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.

The Florida House passed House Bill (HB) 7117, which would require able-bodied adult Medicaid recipients to work or look for work. Such requirements would put thousands of Florida families at risk of losing Medicaid coverage.

Most adult, non-disabled Medicaid beneficiaries work or live in working families.[1] Those who don’t work face significant health challenges (e.g., cancer, mental illness) or family caregiving responsibilities. Such circumstances limit their ability to work or reduce their ability to compete for jobs.[2]  Taking away these participants’ health coverage will decrease their prospects for future employment.[3]

The experience of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF), which includes cash assistance for families in deep poverty, gives us a preview.[4]  Already-struggling families would lose Medicaid coverage because one or both adults are unable to work or face major barriers to finding and retaining employment. As a result, Floridians would pay for increased uncompensated health care through higher insurance premiums to offset the costs of families that would otherwise qualify for Medicaid.

Families that qualify for Medicaid coverage are eligible because they are poor. Poverty reflects a lack of funds, not a lack of willingness to work. We urge the Legislature to enact sensible public policy and delete the work requirements in HB 7117.


[1] Garfield, Rachel et al., Understanding the intersection of Medicaid and Work, Kaiser Family Foundation, p. 1, 2017. Accessed via: Kaiser Family Foundation.

[2] Katch, Hannah, Medicaid Work Requirements Would Limit Health Care access without Boosting Employment, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, p. 4, 2016. Accessed via:

[3] Ibid, p. 4-5

[4] Supra at 2, pp. 1 and 5

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