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
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.
Exploding 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 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.
“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
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