The Case for Medicaid Expansion Workforce Requirements

April 30, 2015
Blog Post

A Thursday (April 30) POLITICO article on workforce requirements[1] for able-bodied, working age Medicaid expansion recipients highlights my  first bill introduced in the 114th Congress, H.R. 886. The State Flexibility and Workforce Requirement Act of 2015 gives states the option to create workforce requirements for individual Medicaid expansion recipients who are able-bodied, working age adults.

While the headline of the article is misleading (most Republicans—including me—do not support Obamacare), it clearly makes the case for why allowing states that have chosen to expand Medicaid to create workforce requirements for able-bodied, working age adults makes sense. It extensively quotes Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and illustrates the need for a hand up instead of a hand out.

“He needs to win over people like the Rev. Donnie Copeland, a pastor and rookie state lawmaker, who defeated an incumbent last year on an anti-Medicaid message. Driving through the slums of North Little Rock, past the sand-colored brick apartments of the East Gate Terrace housing project and boxy houses with peeling paint, he explained why he doesn’t want his parishioners to get free health care.

“Copeland told of how he works through the Apostolic Church of North Little Rock and a nonprofit called Arkansas METRO, which helps poor and working people pay their bills — if they take a 13-week financial responsibility class and adhere to personalized recommendations that might include training for a higher-paying job. The organization used to just pay the bills until ‘one day it just dawned on us: “We’re not really helping them,”’ Copeland said. ‘We give them some money, that’ll get them by for the day. But it’s really not helping them long-term.’

“Medicaid is the same, in his view. People should prove they are worth the investment.”

To further drive home this point, estimates provided by the Government Accountability Office say that Medicaid expansion in Arkansas[2] will cost $778 million over three years. As of this moment, there is no mandate for any of the able bodied, working age adults covered by the Medicaid expansion to find employment, participate in job training courses, or find volunteer work.  In fact, the Obama administration has denied every request for workforce requirements from individual states, such as Utah. For that price, why would the Obama administration be against creating jobs and giving citizens of the Fourth District and the state of Arkansas a chance at the American dream?

Simply put, workforce requirements are key to not only saving taxpayers’ money, but also to putting Americans back to work and turning around a struggling economy.