Medicaid Work Requirements: Friend or Foe?

Associate professor Diane Dewar had her analysis of Medicaid work requirements published in The Conversation US. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 15, 2018) – According to an analysis by a UAlbany health policy researcher, a new rule that allows states to impose work requirements on those receiving Medicaid benefits could have unforeseen implications.

In a piece published in The Conversation US, Diane Dewar, associate professor of Health Policy, Management and Behavior in the School of Public Health, asserts that the permission granted by President Trump’s administration to allow states to impose restrictions on Medicaid eligibility, such as paid work, job training or volunteering, could actually cost the government more in the long-run.

Dewar writes that Kentucky, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin had long pressed the federal government for permission to make Medicaid eligibility contingent upon work, volunteering or caring for a family member because it has become increasingly hard for them to cover their share of Medicaid costs. In January, these states got their wish when the Trump administration released the news that they could, for the first time, impose work or job training requirements on individuals in return for obtaining health insurance under Medicaid.

If these work requirements become universal, Dewar predicts that as many as 6.3 million people could lose their coverage, and that research indicates that work requirements do not automatically lead the poor to find jobs or earn their way out of poverty.

“The requirement that enrollees work or fulfill community engagement requirements in other ways will at best, in my opinion, reduce some spending on Medicaid in the short term as a few people are forced to drop out,” said Dewar. “Without access to routine care, those who lose coverage will either forego medical assistance entirely or make more expensive trips to emergency rooms.”

The Conversation US is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community. You can read Dewar’s full piece, “Medicaid work requirements could cost the government more in the long run,” here.

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