February 26, 2018

Lawmakers: Don't Jump on the Medicaid Work Requirement Bandwagon

Last week, the House Health & Human Services Committee passed a Medicaid work requirement. We previously praised Florida leadership for not taking this path, but Speaker Corcoran is now backtracking. Nevertheless, the facts haven’t changed.

Speaker Corcoran originally noted that Florida’s Medicaid beneficiaries are mostly children, seniors and pregnant moms, not working age childless adults, who are the primary target of states seeking to impose Medicaid work requirements. Moreover, most Florida Medicaid recipients who can work are already working.

For those who can’t work, because of illness for example, the stakes are high that they will lose health coverage exactly when they need it. Exemptions from work would not be automatic. They would only be triggered if a beneficiary complies with paperwork, reporting and other burdensome requirements difficult for someone to navigate, especially when they are sick. Further, implementing such exemptions would add significant state costs to Florida’s Medicaid program.

Another factor that should give Florida leadership pause: if the state is serious about fighting its opioid epidemic, this proposal goes in the opposite direction.  In a recent letter to the Trump Administration, more than 160 national, state and local groups expressed their opposition to work requirements, stating that it’s directly at odds with bipartisan efforts to address this crisis.

Linking coverage to work requirements would be costly for both Floridians’ health and the fiscal health of the state. We urge lawmakers not to senselessly jump on this bandwagon.

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