House Passes Work-Promoting Medicaid Reform

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

Commonwealth Foundation
Contact: John Bouder, 570-490-1042, [email protected]

Pa. House Passes Work-Promoting Medicaid Reform
House Health Committee Advances Food Stamp Reform

April 17, 2018, Harrisburg, Pa.Today, the state House passed legislation, HB 2138, promoting independence among healthy, adult Medicaid recipients by requiring them to find part-time work or engage in job training to continue receiving benefits. Currently, half of healthy adults on Medicaid are not working.

“Work is the most effective way to alleviate poverty,” commented Nathan Benefield, vice president and COO for the Commonwealth Foundation. “But our broken Medicaid system discourages work rather than promoting it. This legislation is a major step towards creating a clear and permanent pathway to independence for thousands of Pennsylvanians.”

HB 2138, sponsored by Rep. Matt Dowling, instructs the Department of Human Services (DHS) to craft a waiver seeking authority from the federal government to implement Medicaid work requirements for able-bodied adults. To date, Washington has approved three of ten submitted Medicaid work requirement waivers (Kentucky, Indiana, and Arkansas).

On Monday, the House Health Committee approved HB 1659, sponsored by Rep. Mike Tobash, which strengthens work requirements in Pennsylvania’s food stamps program. The bill prohibits DHS from requesting waivers from existing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) work requirements. In Pennsylvania, work is waived in all but nine counties, despite the state’s skilled-labor shortage.

Other states have already seen success in implementing work requirements. Currently, 17 states require all healthy adults without dependents to work part time or volunteer part time to maintain food stamp benefits.

After Kansas applied food stamp work requirements statewide, 75 percent of recipients exited the program and half of those individuals saw their incomes rise by 127 percent. In Maine, individuals leaving food stamps after the implementation of work requirements saw their incomes more than double.

Work and community service requirements are also popular. Nationally, 79 percent of voters support work requirements for healthy adults on food stamps. In Pennsylvania, two-thirds of likely voters support work and community service requirements for healthy adults on Medicaid.

“While work requirements can help put beneficiaries’ lives back on solid ground, the benefits extend beyond the individual,” continued Benefield. “Employers will have an easier time filling jobs, taxpayers’ costs will decline, and government resources will be preserved for those most in need. It’s time for the Senate to follow the House’s lead and advance commonsense work requirements.”

For more information on work requirements, see Commonwealth Foundation’s policy report Restoring the Dignity of Work.

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact John Bouder 570-490-1042 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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