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  • Posted January 8, 2018

Medicaid Work Requirements

In an article I came across by David Frank, AARP (https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/advocacy/info-2017/medicaid-work-requirements-fd.html); I discovered Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, Utah and Wisconsin are trying to make employment a condition of receiving Medicaid. On the surface, this may seem pretty reasonable – especially if you’re not too familiar with the program itself.

“Medicaid is a jointly funded, Federal-State health insurance program for low-income and needy people. It covers children, the aged, blind, and/or disabled and other people who are eligible to receive federally assisted income maintenance payments.” (https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/medicaid.htm). I added the emphasis in red, because from what I’ve personally experienced the focus is on “other people”. This focus is usually followed by an assertion about how they should be able to get a job (I’m stopping here, but almost invariably there will also be some condescending or insulting remarks as well).

I’m all for everyone working, but this is a free-country and the government can’t tell businesses who to hire. Sure, it can prevent discrimination, and there are laws in place; but at the end of the day a business is going to hire the best fit for the positions they need filled. And with increased automation, there is less and less need for unskilled labor. Schools are getting better at developing skills, but the curve is steep – and in my experience the focus is still centered around food, filth and flowers; because historically these were the job types assumed to be best suited.

Companies are recognizing those with disabilities have more to offer, and several (AT&, Prudential Financial and IBM – source DiversityInc) are leading the pack – but it’s going to take time. From what I have personally experienced, most people want to be independent – and working goes a long way towards fostering this. Families can help by focusing on what their children CAN do, rather than what their challenges are. Easier said than done; but setting the foundation is key.

From there, schools and employers can, and should, build the necessary skills. Bring back journeyman programs and focus less on college; the need for trades (plumbing, electrical, HVAC, etc) aren’t going away. But none of this needs the State governments to legislate a demand to work for Medicaid.

 


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