The Alabama state Senate Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development is considering a bill that would require the state’s Medicaid agency to verify whether recipients are eligible to receive those benefits.
Senate Bill 140 (S.B. 140) would also require the Alabama government to ask the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for permission to implement work requirements for able-bodied individuals receiving Medicaid.
Alabama state Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) revised S.B. 140 in February, after Alabama asked CMS for permission to implement work requirements for its Medicaid program.
‘Not an Easy Task’
Using government policies to encourage people to better themselves can be difficult, but Orr says it’s worth the effort.
“It is not an easy task to encourage, through policy measures, people to get out if they don’t want to and to seek employment and a job,” Orr said. “That’s very difficult to pull off through policy measures. The more we encourage work, using the programs available for substance abuse, job training, etc., the better off we’re going to be as a society, rather than having no accountability.
“Because we’re offering these other measures, I think it’s a good thing to do all we can to encourage these people to get into the workforce and be productive members of society,” Orr said.
Savings, Personal Empowerment
Leigh Hixon, senior director of policy relations at the Alabama Policy Institute, says taxpayers benefit when states ensure entitlements go only to those who are truly needy.
“If every state implemented Medicaid work requirements, taxpayers could save nearly $1 trillion over the next ten years,” Hixon said.
Hixon says seeking employment or getting job training boosts self-sufficiency.
“Empowering individuals through work is the best way to increase incomes and reduce dependency, and Alabama is seeking permission to put a work requirement on a small number of Medicaid recipients,” Hixon said. “If implemented, affected recipients would have to show they have a job or are actively engaged in a job search or training.”
Hixon says eligibility checks ensure finite taxpayer-funded resources are available for those who actually need help.
“As a result, limited public resources are preserved for the truly needy,” Hixon said. “The experiences in other states indicate that states can conservatively expect to save between 2 and 4 percent of total Medicaid spending.”