Wolf Vetoes Opportunity for Healthy Adults to Escape Poverty

Member Group : Commonwealth Foundation

Wolf Vetoes Opportunity for Healthy Adults to Escape Poverty
Work Requirements Proven Effective in Ending Generational Poverty

October 19, 2018, Harrisburg, Pa.—Late this afternoon, Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed HB 2138, a bold anti-poverty bill aimed at helping Pennsylvanians achieve independence. The legislation would have incentivized healthy, childless adults enrolled in Medicaid move from dependency to self-sufficiency through work or training requirements.

In response, Commonwealth Foundation Vice President and Chief Operating Officer issued the following statement:

This is a disappointment for all who hope to see an enduring solution to poverty in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, Gov. Wolf is putting politics above good policy by refusing to help healthy adults on welfare move into the workforce.

Contrary to Wolf’s veto statement, this legislation would have prioritized medical coverage for those who need it most, including those who are unable to work due to medical conditions like addiction, parents of young children, and the elderly.

This legislation’s impact would have been transformative, as other states that have implemented welfare work requirements have proven. Moreover, the policy is supported by two-thirds of Pennsylvania voters.

Yet, Wolf has chosen to side with his largest campaign supporter, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which benefits from the status quo of ever-growing welfare rolls.

It’s a shame that our governor is standing in the way of progress.

Rest assured, we will keep fighting for policies that actually help those who need it most.

Here are the facts on HB 2138:

  • The bill explicitly exempts those dealing with substance abuse from work requirements.
  • Under HB 2138, no one would be denied coverage; but healthy, working-age adults without young children would be required to work part-time or participate in work training.
  • HB 2138 actually prioritizes Medicaid funds for those who need it most—children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.
  • The reforms would save taxpayers money, while helping individuals transition from dependence to work, thus freeing up funds to sustain the Medicaid program.
  • The bill allows Gov. Wolf’s own administration to design the Medicaid waiver to the federal government, meaning he could ensure the policy applied only to able-bodied, childless adults.

Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Michael Torres at 850-619-2737 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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