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.
Arkansas made national headlines in 2013 when then-governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, struck a deal to make Arkansas the first southern state to expand Medicaid through Obamacare. Shortly thereafter, Beebe exited (stage left), leaving a fiscal, political, and moral disaster for the new administration to grapple with. But now, thanks in large part to the leadership of Republican governor Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas is taking significant steps toward reversing Obamacare’s devastating impact. Other expansion states should take note. Continue reading
“We will get our people off of welfare and back to work,” President Trump said in his inaugural address. He continued that theme the next month at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. “It’s time for all Americans to get off of welfare and get back to work,” he told the crowd. “You’re going to love it, you’re going to love it, you’re going to love it.” And in his address to a joint session of Congress a few days later, the president boldly declared that “millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect.”
This was music to the ears of hard-working Americans across the country, after eight long years of welfare expansion and increased dependency. But how can President Trump deliver on these promises? Continue reading
One of the most significant yet underreported outcomes of ObamaCare is its impact on the truly needy. Before ObamaCare, our country maintained a safety net that was reserved for our neediest neighbors. The Medicaid program, for example, primarily served poor children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities.
But ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion sought to change this. It sought to transform a safety net into an open-ended, free-for-all welfare program for non-disabled, working-age adults, the overwhelming majority of whom have no dependent children at home. Every penny spent on this new population is a penny that can’t be spent on the truly vulnerable. That’s just a fact.
Many of these individuals – nearly 600,000 nationwide – currently sit on Medicaid waiting lists, hoping to get additional services that states say they need but, due to limited funding, states can’t afford. Literally, states have said, “You need this service but we do not have the adequate funding to provide it for you.” As a result, these individuals sit and wait. Many of them will die before they ever get the care they need.
Some might call that rationing. At best, it is misprioritization. Continue reading
Late Monday, House GOP leaders released several changes to the American Health Care Act, the House’s vehicle for partially repealing and replacing ObamaCare. The amendment would eliminate enhanced funding for new Medicaid expansion states and reducing funding for new enrollees in existing expansion states, starting in 2020. These are both critical steps to protect limited dollars for the truly needy and music to the ears of conservatives who have rightfully raised concerns that the AHCA would not roll back ObamaCare’s failed Medicaid expansion.
But the amendment doesn’t stop there. It would also allow states to create TANF-style work requirements for most non-elderly able-bodied adults on Medicaid (pregnant women, parents with children under six years old, and 20 year olds in school would be exempted in states that chose to accept the work requirements). And while a food stamp-like work requirement is preferable, this is certainly a step in the right direction.
Work requirements are an essential part of any replacement plan that comes out of D.C. Without work requirements in place, individuals have no incentive to increase their incomes or leave dependency. They actually face a massive disincentive to do just that. Continue reading
It may not make the news every day, but welfare fraud is a serious problem – not only because of its volume, but also because of its impact on the truly needy. On the front end of welfare enrollment, lax eligibility verification by states has resulted in an unknown number of individuals signing up for benefits they don’t actually qualify for. And within the program itself, infrequent and insufficient monitoring has resulted in potentially millions of enrollees staying in the program longer than they should.
Enter: the welfare walking dead.
Across the country, thousands of deceased individuals have been found on state welfare rolls. And what might sound like a late-night punchline or a topic for a new AMC mini-series is a serious problem. This type of fraud, although easily preventable, steals limited resources from truly needy individuals who depend on the safety net to survive. Continue reading
By a vote of 55 to 32, the Arkansas House voted yesterday to pass HB1465. The bill, sponsored by Republican State Rep. Josh Miller, would require the Department of Human Services to ask the Trump administration for an enrollment freeze in the state’s out-of-control Medicaid expansion program. No existing enrollees would be removed but no new applications would be accepted. The bill provides what could be a blueprint for lawmakers in D.C. who are looking for options to unwind ObamaCare.
HB1465 flew through the Arkansas House Public Health & Welfare committee earlier this week by a vote of 13-6, even garnering the support of some previous Medicaid expansion supporters, including Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Wardlaw. Wardlaw, who voted for the initial expansion in 2013, was a Democrat at the time, but switched parties last November, just weeks after the election.
And Wardlaw is not alone. Yesterday, on the floor of the House, multiple members of both parties who have previously supported Medicaid expansion voted in favor of Miller’s commonsense proposal. Many of them voted for the original expansion proposal back in 2013.
The progression of HB1465 through the legislature is demonstrative of the political realignment happening not just in Arkansas but in expansion states across the country. Continue reading
As the dust of the Obama administration continues to settle, a trend is growing across the country: State leaders are stepping up to tackle big problems in their welfare systems. Specifically, states are moving away from policies that promote long-term dependency and towards reforms that are pro-work and pro-independence.
As recently as two years ago, for example, 42 states had a policy of partially or fully waiving work requirements for non-disabled, childless adults on food stamps. Today, however, just seven states are waiving these work requirements entirely and many states with partial waivers are moving to eliminate them. Now one governor is pushing the envelope even further. Continue reading
It’s officially 2017. A new year, full of new beginnings and opportunities. But for taxpayers and the truly vulnerable in ObamaCare expansion states, it’s the continuation (and acceleration) of a nightmare. As of January 1, states are on the hook for 5 percent of the expansion’s costs. And with more enrollees than states expected to ever enroll, this fiscal nightmare will be even worse than expected, putting taxpayers and the truly needy at even greater risk. Continue reading