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

The Hill: Ohio’s ObamaCare freeze could change the repeal debate

The Ohio senate did something historic this week. As part of its budget, it froze enrollment in the state’s exploding ObamaCare expansion, effective 2018. This move will not only protect Ohio’s truly needy, but will surely influence the ongoing debate over ObamaCare repeal in Washington D.C.

Ohio’s ObamaCare expansion has been hemorrhaging for some time. The Kasich administration promised enrollment in the program would never exceed 447,000 non-disabled, working-age adults. But, as of last month, enrollment has surpassed 725,000, showing no signs of stopping.

This enrollment surge has created a cost explosion as well. In fact, the latest data from the state indicate the program is nearly $7 billion over budget and that number is expected to climb to more than $8 billion by year’s end. Altogether, the program has cost nearly twice what was promised when implemented.

Ohio taxpayers really began to feel the pinch in January when ObamaCare’s “free ride” ended and the state started paying five percent of the expansion costs.
Continue reading

The Hill: Work requirement essential to health care reform

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

The Hill: Congress Should Take a Cue from Arkansas

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

The Hill: Unwinding ObamaCare Could Make Arkansas A Model for the Nation

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When Arkansas legislators and then-Governor Mike Beebe expanded Medicaid to able-bodied adults through ObamaCare, supporters claimed their plan was something other states were closely watching and, before it was even implemented, was serving as a national model. What unfolded, however, was a fiscal and moral disaster that no other state dares to fully replicate.

Recent reports indicate that Arkansas’ ObamaCare experiment is nearly twice as expensive per-person as a conventional Medicaid expansionwould have been. If that weren’t bad enough, more able-bodied adults signed up for this welfare expansion than state officials promised would ever even be eligible.

Now as state taxpayers begin feeling the brunt of budget shortfalls and skyrocketing enrollment, one Arkansas lawmaker is working to stop the bleeding. Continue reading