New guidance on Medicaid was issued in January that allows states to impose work requirements. Based on this guidance, two bills have been introduced in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would require Medicaid recipients to document whether they are employed in order to receive benefits.
If you would like to join us in opposing these bills, the Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) has a simple tool that you can use to contact your representatives and share your concerns about this onerous and unnecessary barrier to health care access.
These bills, HB 2024 and HB 2138, would do nothing to improve the health of Pennsylvania families or the implementation of the state’s Medicaid program. The plan would make it more difficult for low-income Pennsylvanians to qualify for and keep coverage they need to stay healthy.
In reality, these work requirements are not about helping people find work–these bills have no provisions for additional job training or assistance. The bills also require Medicaid recipients to verify their eligibility twice as often as they currently do, and those who are unable to comply with the new requirements will be locked out of the program for increasingly long periods of time, up to a permanent ban. They are simply Medicaid cuts in disguise, and will cause low-income Pennsylvanians across the state to lose their health care coverage.
We are joining the PHAN and other organizations across the state in signing a letter to the members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, urging them to oppose these bills.
As the letter reviews, research shows that work requirements cause people to lose health coverage that they need, often because of mistakes in navigating the new bureaucracy that these requirements create. “Taking someone’s health care away because of a paperwork error is too high a price to pay. A person whose hours are reduced or who received an incomplete pay stub, for example, could lose access to needed medical treatments if their benefits are cut.”
In addition, most Medicaid recipients who can work, already do. “Nationally, 60% of adults under 65 on Medicaid are already working, and 78% have at least one worker in the family. Nearly 80% of those not working are in school or cannot work due to illness, disability, or caring for others in their family.”
Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana have already implemented Medicaid work requirements with federal approval, and state legislatures around the country are considering bills like Pennsylvania’s. Governor Wolf vetoed a similar bill sent to his desk late last year, citing increased costs of implementation and needless hassle for families receiving benefits. “Seniors, people with disabilities, individuals suffering from substance use disorder, and low-income working families don’t need their lives to be made even more difficult by politicians in Harrisburg,” his spokesman said at the time.