Townhall: Medicaid expansion is (still) not saving Arkansas hospitals

In 2013, the Arkansas legislature voted to expand Medicaid to able-bodied, childless adults through ObamaCare. One of the primary motivations behind this decision—if not the primary factor—was the hope that expansion would save hospitals from certain demise. But after nearly six full years of expansion and hundreds of thousands of able-bodied adults added to welfare, Arkansas’ hospitals are still struggling—and many of them have closed.

This comes as no surprise to those of us who can plainly see that expanding welfare doesn’t create jobs or bolster economic activity. (Indeed, it does quite the opposite.) But still, these hospital closures simply cannot be overlooked, especially as more states consider whether or not to bring this same nightmare home.

Just this week, news reports out of Arkansas classified the health of the state’s hospitals as “condition critical.” Continue reading

Townhall: Arkansas is debunking myths about welfare reform

Almost exactly one year ago, Arkansas became the first state to ever implement commonsense work requirements for able-bodied, working-age adults on Medicaid—and the far Left freaked out.

Since that time, they’ve proceeded to outright slander the state, falsely asserting that the requirement would leave the state worse off, hurt Arkansans, and was nothing more than a “reporting requirement” designed to confuse enrollees with paperwork rather than help them find a job. They’ve waged an all-out war on work, even using the courts to try to (temporarily) thwart the will of Arkansans, who overwhelmingly support the requirement—Republicans and Democrats alike.

They’ve gone all out for a few big reasons: they want as much dependency as possible. They think a life-long welfare check is better for Americans than a paycheck. And they also know that Medicaid work requirements are a signature achievement of President Trump’s first term.

If they can stop Arkansas, they think they can stop work requirements from spreading to other states, increase dependency, and deal a blow to President Trump at the same time. For the far Left, it’s a win-win-win.

But there’s bad news for them: from Day One, they’ve been wrong about Arkansas’ commonsense welfare reform, and a new study from the Foundation from Government Accountability proves it. Continue reading

Townhall: Work requirements are working in Arkansas

Today, the food stamp program is one of the largest welfare programs in the federal budget. And of the nearly 40 million people enrolled, 20 million of them are able-bodied adults. This surging enrollment has led to record-high spending, topping out at nearly $80 billion just a few years ago.

The good news is that there’s a proven way to reduce dependency and improve lives at the same time: work requirements. And one state is showing once again just how effective work requirements can be, as detailed in a brand new study from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA).

In 2015, as one of his first major policy moves as governor, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson instructed his welfare agency to let the state’s work requirement waiver expire. Under federal law, able-bodied adults without dependents are expected to work, train, or volunteer at least part-time if they want to receive food stamps. But until Governor Hutchinson took office, Arkansas had never enforced this requirement statewide.

Starting in January 2016, that changed. Able-bodied, childless adults would be expected to work part-time if they wanted to stay on food stamps. Here’s what happened. Continue reading

Let’s Get Real: Arkansas’ Work Requirements Reporting Rules Are Anything But Onerous

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In June, Arkansas became the first state to ever implement a work requirement in Medicaid, after winning approval for the reform from the Trump administration in March. This speedy implementation—and pursuit of the work requirement in the first place—was, arguably, the most significant policy achievement of Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s tenure. And the implementation wasn’t just swift—it was methodical and thoughtful as well, and the Hutchinson administration has bent over backwards to make compliance as simple as possible, giving more able-bodied Arkansans a path out of the welfare trap.

Yet advocates of perpetual welfare dependency have been apoplectic, even filing a lawsuit to move Arkansas backwards. They claim that reporting work is too complex and onerous for Medicaid enrollees to possibly understand. In addition to being incredibly condescending, this claim couldn’t be further from the truth. Continue reading

National Review: The Biggest Welfare Crisis You’ve Never Heard Of

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Medicaid is out of control and unsustainable. Work requirements could help.

It’s not the lead story on the nightly news, and it’s not generating millions of clicks online. It may be one of the most underreported, underappreciated public-policy crises of our time. That’s a terrifying reality because, left unaddressed, this crisis will come at great cost to America’s most vulnerable.

The Medicaid program is at its breaking point. Even before Obamacare lured some states into expanding the program to non-disabled, working-age adults, Medicaid was growing at an alarming rate. Now, in the Obamacare era, the program is growing even faster, siphoning more and more resources away from folks who truly depend on Medicaid for survival.

A new report, released this week by the Foundation for Government Accountability, gives a glimpse of just how serious the problem is.

Continue reading

National Review: Getting to Work in Maine

Welcom-to-MaineThe state of Maine has long been on the leading edge of welfare reform. Under Governor Paul LePage, it has reformed its food-stamp program by promoting work, resulting in former enrollees’ more than doubling their incomes the following year. Maine has also worked tirelessly to find and prosecute welfare fraud, going after those who steal limited resources from the people who most need help.

These efforts, combined with Maine’s rejection of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, have allowed the state to make the truly needy a priority. But Maine’s not slowing down. Continue reading

The Hill: Work requirements reduce dependency and increase incomes

income-going-up-ddpavumba-freedigitalphotos.net_.jpgExploding welfare enrollment is one of the largest challenges facing states today. Since 2000, the number of people dependent on Medicaid has more than doubled and the number of able-bodied adults on the program has nearly quadrupled. As a result, total Medicaid spending has skyrocketed, almost tripling from $206 billion in 2000 to nearly $600 billion today.

Even worse, Medicaid spending is now consuming nearly a third of state budgets, leaving fewer and fewer dollars to spend on education, infrastructure, and law enforcement. It’s clear that the current path is unsustainable; states need options to rein in spending, relieve taxpayers, and reserve resources for the truly needy. And the answer is work.

In 2011, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback instituted new sanctions in his state’s cash assistance program for able-bodied adults who refused to meet work requirements. But the Brownback administration didn’t just implement the reform and move on — they tracked the impact so they could see what happened to these individuals once they left welfare. Three key results should inspire policymakers in other states and in Washington D.C. to expand work requirements to able-bodied adults in as many programs as possible. Continue reading

The Hill: Trump should eliminate the food stamp loophole

Work requirements are a critical part of welfare. Without them in place, welfare can quickly become a way of life instead of a temporary safety net. Unfortunately, states have used numerous workarounds to void work requirements in food stamps, perpetuating dependency and leaving taxpayers on the hook.

One such workaround is blanket waivers. States can get permission from the federal government to exempt able-bodied, childless adults from work requirements if they qualify for work waivers. Under federal law, states must have at least 10 percent unemployment or “a demonstrated lack of job opportunities” to qualify for these waivers, but agency interpretation of these rules has expanded them well beyond their original intent.

In 2015, 42 states were using these waivers to waive work requirements entirely. Thankfully, that trend is starting to reverse and states that are now enforcing work have seen the incomes of former enrollees more than double, more than offsetting lost welfare benefits and leaving them better off overall.

But even if states no longer qualify for blanket waivers, there’s another workaround they can use to skirt work requirements. It’s called the 15 percent exemption. Continue reading

The Hill: In Pence, the needy may finally have an ally in the White House

636397960104147725-619884001-Harvey-Pence-Visit-RCS01Most people agree on what seems to be a pretty basic fact: the same dollar cannot be spent twice. Money is finite. And when government spends a dollar – or several billion – giving welfare to people who shouldn’t receive it, logic follows that those dollars cannot then be spent on something else. Pretty simple, right?

Well, apparently not for everyone.

In his recent remarks to the National Governor’s Association, Vice President Mike Pence drove home this simple truth – that resources are limited and, as a consequence of that reality, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion has put “far too many able-bodied adults on the Medicaid rolls, leaving many disabled and vulnerable Americans at the back of the line.” The left proceeded to have a meltdown.

The problem for them – and for all of us – is that Pence was right. Continue reading

Heritage: Work Requirements Overcome the Welfare Trap

The Heritage Foundation recently published their annual index on culture and opportunity. I was fortunate enough to author a chapter for them on welfare policy.

Here is an excerpt:

Unlike pre-reform recipients, individuals who enroll in the TANF program today know that their time is limited. They know, in most cases, that they are expected to work and that dependence on cash assistance is not a lifestyle they can maintain over the long term. This is good news for their well-being, because research has shown that the less time individuals spend on welfare, the quicker they will go back to work. And when they do, their incomes will more than double on average, more than offsetting lost welfare benefits and leaving them better off than they were before.

You can read the full piece here.