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Medicaid work requirements are hurting women and families

 

Dying from red tape? Most of us can relate to the feeling. “Cutting through all this bureaucracy is killing me!” For some of the most vulnerable people who rely on Medicaid coverage, it can even be literally true.

That’s because work requirements and other bureaucratic obstacles imposed by states on their Medicaid populations are designed with one goal in mind: Make it so difficult to comply with the rules that hundreds of thousands of people lose their health care.

Consider Arkansas, the only state so far to start implementing a Medicaid work requirement. With only part of the requirement in effect, more than 18,000 people lost coverage in just six months. Were the rules really designed to make people lose coverage? In a rural state where many lack internet or smart phones, work requirements could only be reported online… on a website that was offline for 10 hours every day.

Having successfully fought to save Medicaid from congressional attacks and proved the popularity of Medicaid expansion through ballot initiatives, advocates must not lose sight of the ways that conservatives are seeking to repeal Medicaid from the inside out.


Millions of low-income women—including those who are already working, who are serving as unpaid caregivers, who have disabilities that prevent them from working, or who should qualify for an exemption—are at risk of losing their coverage simply because they can’t keep up with all the paperwork.

Women are particularly vulnerable because they are more likely to be low-income, to depend on Medicaid for coverage, to work part-time or in jobs with irregular schedules, and to serve as unpaid caregivers for young children or elderly family members. The challenges for women of color facing institutional racism are even steeper. One 2017 study of work requirements in cash assistance programs found that states with higher concentrations of African Americans punished non-compliance more severely and that African Americans were more likely to be punished than their white peers, even when controlling for other factors.

Want to learn more? Check out our briefing paper here: RWV Medicaid Work Requirements Briefing Paper PDF

What Can You Do?

Let your state legislators know you oppose work requirements. Trump’s CMS has approved work requirements in 9 states as of fall 2019: Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, New Hampshire, Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Utah, and Wisconsin. An additional 6 states—Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia—have work requirement proposals pending with CMS. But even in “blue states,” we can’t take opposition to work requirements for granted as legislators and governors look to cut costs.

Help us spread the message! Work requirements are particularly insidious because they sound reasonable even as their true intent is to make it so difficult to comply with the rules that hundreds of thousands of people lose their health care. You can help spread the word that work requirements have nothing to do with promoting work and everything to do with taking away care.

You can use our social media “badges” to help spread the word.

Click to download all 3 badges.