The Trump administration wants to require Medicaid recipients to work in exchange for their benefits. That means working, volunteering, attending school, or job training for 80 hours a month. Yet this reasonable reform has provoked howls of outrage from progressives, who say the requirements would deprive low-income people of healthcare.This outrage is unjustified. The majority of Medicaid beneficiaries are perfectly capable of getting a job: About 60 percent are of working age and not disabled. Of those, however, about half don’t work, and only about 1 in 5 works full time. What’s more, roughly 6.8 million of the 12.4 million Medicaid enrollees added under Obamacare’s expansion don’t work, according to the Foundation of Government Accountability.Medicaid is breeding mass dependency. The program is meant to serve as a backstop for the truly disadvantaged. It’s not supposed to be a replacement for a job. Physically able enrollees ought to work in exchange for their benefits.
Other welfare programs already require beneficiaries to get jobs. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which provides families with cash support, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low-income people purchase food, both impose some sort of work requirements.
An extensive body of research shows that having a job boosts mental and physical well-being. So work requirements could help Medicaid enrollees get off government assistance and become productive, happy, and self-sufficient members of society.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would allow states to start imposing such requirements in their local Medicaid programs. About a dozen states have applied and four — Indiana, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Arkansas — have already been approved.