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
Policymakers in the Land of Lincoln have some important work to do this year to preserve limited state resources for the truly vulnerable. Stopping the enrollment of able-bodied adults in Illinois’ Medicaid expansion program, and instituting work requirements for able-bodied adults in Medicaid are necessary to safeguard the program for Illinoisans most in need of services.
A Medicaid enrollment freeze waiver can preserve resources for truly needy Illinoisans
To stop Medicaid expansion enrollment, Illinois policymakers should ask the Trump administration for an enrollment freeze waiver. The program is devouring state tax dollars that could go to help Illinois’ truly needy residents, including the 18,000-plus Illinoisans on Medicaid’s Prioritization for Urgency of Need for Services waiting list. An enrollment freeze waiver would allow state officials to stop the hemorrhaging of Medicaid dollars and begin to immediately prioritize truly vulnerable Illinoisans once again.
Medicaid work requirements can prevent the safety net from becoming a poverty trap
But that’s just the beginning of what Illinois officials must do to reform the state’s overgrown and unsustainable Medicaid system. The state should also request a waiver to institute work requirements for all able-bodied adults in Medicaid. Medicaid’s safety net has become a web that traps too many Illinoisans in dependency. But with the requirements in place, the truly vulnerable and taxpayers will find much-needed relief. Equally important, enrollees will be better able to transition to self-sufficiency.
Currently, Illinois’ Medicaid program is operating as a welfare trap – a system that encourages individuals to remain in dependency indefinitely and penalizes them if they try to leave. There’s perhaps no better proof of this phenomenon than the number of Illinoisans who are in the Medicaid program and not working at all.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, less than one-third of all able-bodied, working-age Medicaid enrollees in Illinois work full time. By contrast, nearly 36 percent don’t work at all.
In addition, according to data from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, nearly 54 percent of able-bodied adult enrollees in the Medicaid expansion reported no income at all in 2015. Continue reading
Illinois’ Medicaid program has spiraled out of control. Since opting to expand Medicaid through Obamacare, the state has enrolled roughly 650,000 able-bodied adults – nearly twice as many as the state said would ever even qualify, much less enroll. Over that same period, 752 truly needy Illinoisans have died on a waiting list for medical treatment. And with a large Obamacare bill due in less than a month, policymakers should start working now to put the brakes on this nightmare.
Thankfully, simple, tested and effective policy solutions exist to the challenges facing the state. By freezing enrollment in its Medicaid expansion program, Illinois can immediately begin protecting resources for its truly vulnerable citizens and help Illinoisans currently trapped in welfare get back on the path to independence. In addition, lawmakers would immediately provide much-needed relief to overburdened state taxpayers.
Enrollment freezes are simple: Rather than pulling the plug on the expansion program overnight, the state would allow current enrollees to stay for the time being, but would stop enrolling new members. This allows lawmakers to gradually wind down the program over time, but immediately free up resources for the truly vulnerable.
Welfare programs such as food stamps should offer individuals a hand up – temporary assistance until they are able to get back on their feet – rather than becoming a way of life. Work requirements are an important part of this prescription. Without work requirements, adults can become trapped in the welfare system, which robs them of opportunity. And unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening in Illinois today.
Federal welfare legislation signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1996 mandates that able-bodied adults ages 18-49 without dependents must work in order to receive food-stamp benefits. These adults are required to work at least 20 hours per week in order to qualify for food-stamp welfare. If they don’t meet these requirements, their eligibility is limited to three months (in a three-year period).
Most states are enforcing these federal requirements to help these adults get back to work and free up limited resources for those who need them most. Unfortunately, Illinois is not one of these states. Continue reading
Illinois was one of the first states in the nation to accept ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion. But since its launch, the program has spiraled out of control, blowing through enrollment projections and putting Illinois’ most vulnerable residents at risk.
In fact, the very same day the General Assembly voted to implement ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion two years early in Cook County, lawmakers also voted to implement cuts to traditional Medicaid, costing Jake Chalkey of Streator, Ill., access to critical seizure medication.
As enrollment continues to climb, these cuts may be a sign of what’s to come. Continue reading