Trump Wants To Make Medicaid Recipients Work To Get Benefits. That’s a very bad idea.


By: Dylan Matthews

The new administrator for Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services, Seems Verma, and the new Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, have promised to state governors flexibility in providing Medicaid benefits to the poor, elderly, and disabled, because they want to take into consideration innovations that aid and promote human dignity, employment and freedom.

“We all want to encourage people to work and to support them to work,” Joan Alker, a Medicaid expert who runs the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown, says. “If you take away their health care, people are less likely to be able to work, not more.”

Alker also notes that work requirements could wind up hurting children, even though they’re obviously exempt. Oftentimes children wind up enrolled in Medicaid after their parents are. If parents wind up not enrolling due to a work requirement, that could keep their kids out too.

And that’s just the direct effect. “A healthy parent is going to be a better parent,” Alker notes. “When a parent loses access to health services, that exposes the whole family to bankruptcy and economic insecurity. Because when one member is uninsured, they’re all at risk.”

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