Previous posts in this blog about Medicaid work requirements, especially in the State of Arkansas, suggested that they would be harmful to recipients of Medicaid benefits. Arkansas was the first state to implement work requirements last June.
In an exhaustive article out today from the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors found that requiring Medicaid beneficiaries to work had a detrimental effect on health insurance coverage in the initial 6 months of the policy but no significant change in employment.
Lack of awareness and confusion, the report states, about the reporting requirements were common, which may explain why thousands of persons lost coverage even though more than 95% of the target population appeared to meet the requirements or qualified for an exemption.
The conclusion of the report found that in its first 6 months, work requirements in Arkansas were associated with a significant loss of Medicaid coverage and rise in the percentage of uninsured persons.
The authors found no significant changes in employment associated with the policy, and more than 95% of persons who were targeted by the policy already met the requirement or should have been exempt.
Since the article is quite long, I have summarized the results here, but the full report can be found by clicking here.
It would appear that the goal of forcing Medicaid beneficiaries to go back to work has more downsides than upsides, but since this is being implemented by a group of puritanical, work-obsessed, economic libertarian politicians, reality has overcome their ideological disgust at giving people social benefits without expecting something in return — namely requiring low-income people to find a job in order to be covered for health care.
Isn’t it time we leave the 17th century and its puritan ethics behind and provide every American, rich or poor, with universal health care, with no strings attached? After all, that is what every other Western democracy does.