February 26, 2018

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

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.

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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