PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Policy Allowing States to Impose Work Requirements for Medicaid

On Thursday, the Trump administration issued a letter to state Medicaid directors informing them states will now be permitted to apply for waivers that, if approved, would allow them to enact work requirements for adult able-bodied Medicaid recipients. The Heartland Institute’s Welfare Reform Report Card, published in 2015, argued this reform would greatly help the Medicaid system by ensuring only those who truly need Medicaid will be enrolled.

For more information on how to repair the Medicaid system, please read our Heartland Policy Brief, titled “Don’t Wait for Congress to ‘Fix’ Health Care.”

The following statements from health care policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“Work is a good thing. It is good for the individual, for the family, and for the community. With this exciting announcement from CMS Administrator Seema Verma, states can begin to roll back years of broken Medicaid policies that have trapped millions of people in poverty.

“Heartland will continue to work with state legislators in multiple states who are looking to submit additional Medicaid and Obamacare waivers that will help move more people toward self-sufficiency.”

Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

Dr. Huelskamp represented Kansas’ 1st District in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017.

“Work requirements for the able-bodied, as Trump’s change provides, is a highly desirable reform that will help to minimize unnecessary dependency and remove burdens placed on taxpayers.

“Reasonable work requirements for welfare are broadly supported by the public. Even Democrats have long supported it, including President Bill Clinton, who spoke about that important issue at the 2012 Democratic Party Convention, when he also claimed President Barack Obama supported it.

“This new change to Medicaid is especially timely, given the renewed economy under President Trump.”

Peter Ferrara
Senior Fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

Mr. Ferrara is the author of Power to the People: The New Road to Freedom and Prosperity for the Poor, Seniors, and Those Most in Need of the World’s Best Health Care (2015), and The Obamacare Disaster (2010).

“Work requirements are a proven and effective tool for helping to move people from government dependency to self-sufficiency, while also protecting the program for those who need help the most. Work requirements have already proven to be hugely successful at reducing poverty, encouraging work, and reducing welfare rolls. States have applied them to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) programs, with tremendous outcomes.

“It is likely we will see similar results in Medicaid. States are tired of waiting for Congress to act on Obamacare. Work requirements are the first step toward finally giving states more flexibility over their Medicaid programs. States should continue to push the envelope when it comes to applying for 1115 Medicaid waivers and 1332 Obamacare waivers, since it is unlikely Congress will act soon. CMS Administrator Seema Verma should be commended for giving guidance to states about this very important policy.”

John Nothdurft
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“Good things come to those who wait. The new guidelines from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Medicaid waivers and work requirements should provide a welcome shot in the arm for what has become a stunted Medicaid reform process in the states.

“It should not be understated: Medicaid is in dire need of reform. Medicaid expansion has placed a severe financial strain on the budgets of the states that chose to expand under the provisions instituted by the Affordable Care Act. The creation of work requirements for Medicaid recipients is one area of Medicaid reform that could help control skyrocketing costs. Implementing work requirements is a proven way to ensure recipients take a step toward self-sufficiency rather than become permanently dependent on government aid.

“Ten states have submitted waivers to CMS for Medicaid overhauls that would include work requirements. It is time to start approving these waivers and give states the flexibility they need to reform their Medicaid programs.”

Matthew Glans
Senior Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“Idleness is devastating to physical, as well as spiritual, health. Meaningful work is therapeutic. Even if the job market is terrible, there is always a need for volunteer work. Caregiving for family or friends certainly merits an exemption, and there is one.

“This does not address the problem of the Medicaid poverty trap: If a person earns a dollar too much, he loses far more than he can earn if he is cut off from Medicaid.

“A society cannot long survive if it allows slackers who could contribute to take advantage of workers. This is a serious side effect of replacing private, discerning charity with government entitlement. A work requirement won’t solve this problem, but is a step in the right direction.”

Jane M. Orient, M.D.
Executive Director
Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
[email protected]

“Requiring able-bodied Medicaid enrollees to work makes perfect sense and should be pursued. More importantly, however, is to require an asset test for Medicaid enrollees, to ensure that asset-rich, low-income folks pay their fair share.”

Dave Racer
Policy Advisor, Health Care
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]