Are Medicaid work requirements inherently, irredeemably flawed?
Opinion by Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post posted on the Daytona Beach News Journal Could you have a compassionate, thoughtful system that truly punishes only the lurking shirkers? Arkansas's first-in-the-country, first-in-history Medicaid work requirements have been backfiring. The state has already purged 12,000 from the Medicaid rolls over the past three months. These Arkansans are not necessarily being booted because they’re failing to work, however. Some have lost their insurance because the state has made it so ridiculously complicated for them to prove they’re working.
Then, perversely, getting kicked off insurance can also make it harder for poor Arkansans to keep their jobs. Some people -- such as Adrian McGonigal, a Medicaid recipient with a severe lung disease -- need medication and other care in order to be productive, healthy workers.
Nonetheless, 13 other states are pursuing similar policies. On Tuesday, in fact, the Trump administration re-approved Kentucky’s Medicaid work requirements proposal, just months after a virtually identical proposal had been blocked by a federal court.
The question now is whether the many problems Arkansas is experiencing are because of specific (and unwise) implementation choices that the state made, and are therefore fixable, or whether the very premise of adding work requirements to a health-insurance program is inherently, irredeemably flawed.