The Adults a Medicaid Work Requirement Would Leave Behind

JACKSONVILLE, Ark. — On a frigid morning here, Nancy Godinez was piling bread and other staples into her car outside a food pantry. She had lost her job as a custodian, her unemployment checks had run out, and her job search had proved fruitless.

One thing she still had was health insurance, acquired three years ago after Arkansas’ Republican-controlled legislature agreed to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The coverage, she said, has allowed her to get regular checkups and treatment for tendinitis in her foot.

But unless she finds a new job, Ms. Godinez, 55, could be at risk of losing her insurance, too.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson is among a number of Republican governors hoping to impose a work requirement on Medicaid recipients. They believe that extending Medicaid to millions of low-income adults without disabilities under the health law gave them an incentive not to work.

Since its creation as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society agenda in the 1960s, Medicaid has grown to become a robust safety net program for poor Americans, providing health care for 74 million people. The new Republican ideas for the program, including work requirements and changes in how it is paid for, could make Medicaid much more limited, with a smaller impact on the federal budget but more obstacles to becoming and staying enrolled.

– New York Times

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