Today’s announcement from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – that it intends to allow states to impose work requirements on federal Medicaid programs – is really just an effort to curtail access to health insurance coverage for our nation’s most vulnerable people.
It creates one more inappropriate hoop for them to jump through.
The new requirements also feed a false public perception: that poor people who receive Medicaid benefits are unwilling to work. The fact is that the majority of non-disabled adults on Medicaid are already working. But because low-wage jobs are often temporary or seasonal, and the hours are inconsistent, a work requirement will mean that many who need help will no longer qualify.
The new work requirements also have it backwards: People need to be healthy in order to work. Studies consistently show that work requirements have detrimental health effects, undermining the fundamental purpose of the Medicaid program.
If the president seriously wants to improve our health care system, he should work harder to fulfill his campaign promise of health care for everyone, not only those who can afford it.