By
Anne Swerlick
|
January 25, 2018

Florida Leaders Follow Commonsense Path by Rejecting Medicaid Work Requirements

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.

It’s been a momentous time for those pushing work requirements for Medicaid beneficiaries.  The federal Centers on Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) just issued new state policy guidance signaling its endorsement of this concept, reversing decades of contrary policy. Shortly after the  new guidance, CMS approved Kentucky’s request to implement these requirements. Multiple other states have lined up to follow suit.

But Florida leaders swiftly expressed their reservations about going down this path. House Speaker Richard Corcoran noted, “Florida’s Medicaid population is mostly children, mostly seniors, and single pregnant moms, I don’t think that is necessarily something that we would do.”

Senator Anitere Flores, Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Committee, asked and answered, “Should eligible Medicaid recipients be looking for work or be trying to work? Yes. Should that be a barrier to getting benefits? Probably not.”

The Florida Policy Institute and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, along with many other groups, have reported on the extensive research demonstrating why Medicaid work requirements make no sense. Consider these facts:

  • Most adults with Medicaid are already working;
  • Most of those not working have disabilities or other debilitating health conditions, or have caregiving responsibilities, or are going to school or pursuing job training;
  • Exemptions from work requirements do not protect many of the intended beneficiaries because they are not automatic, difficult for beneficiaries to navigate and are administratively complex and costly for the state to implement; and
  • Experience with work requirements in other safety net programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) shows that they do not lead to stable, long-term, living-wage employment. To the contrary, some families fall deeper into poverty after losing help through the safety net.

Unfortunately, Speaker Corcoran’s recent comments on this topic implicitly endorse work requirements if Florida opted to extend its Medicaid program to more than 500,000 uninsured adults living in poverty. Yet the research described above applies equally to this population. Moreover, research shows that providing Medicaid to these adults would help them get healthy and stay healthy, so they can find a job and keep it.

In the meantime, kudos to Speaker Corcoran and Senator Flores for nipping in the bud any brewing political efforts to impose work requirements on Florida’s current Medicaid population. This is good news for beneficiaries and Florida taxpayers.

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