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
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
The 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
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
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
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
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
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
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