Don’t Take Away Families’ Health Coverage by Adding New Medicaid Requirements

08 January 2019 Written by  

Let’s help parents find work, but let’s not take away their health coverage if they fail to meet a work requirement

The Deseret News had a strong message in their endorsement of Utah Decides Healthcare Proposition 3: “Those who are not healthy cannot work.”

Medicaid expansion will help thousands of parents and individuals get the health coverage they need to find work and improve their lives. Once Medicaid expansion goes into effect April 1st, we will no longer see a ‘cliff effect’ where people make too much money in a new job and then lose their health insurance. We will no longer see a Medicaid system that disincentives people from working just to keep or qualify for their health insurance.
As we have seen in other states, like Ohio, once Medicaid expansion goes into effect, more people are able to find work and stay employed. After expansion in Ohio, employment for Medicaid enrollees went up 15%, meaning 1 in 2 expansion enrollees started working. Medicaid expansion is one of the most effective way to help people find work and stay employed.

Unfortunately, many states, including Utah, are exploring additional requirements to Medicaid that would lead someone to get kicked off for failing to complete a work requirement. This means thousands of Utahns, including veterans, caregivers and people with chronic conditions, would have to comply with additional requirements- or lose their health insurance coverage.

If a parent or caregiver loses health insurance due to added Medicaid work requirements, this will have ripple effects throughout the whole family. For example, if a parent does not have health insurance, then a child is also less likely to have health insurance.

Work requirements create more red-tape and requirements for hard-working families to meet.

We only need to look to Arkansas’ recent experience to see the results of a so-called work requirement. After the Arkansas requirements went into effect, almost 17,000 Arkansans have lost their health insurance. Yet the data show that most of the closures are due to a lack of awareness or complexity around the new requirements.

In contrast, there are programs like Montana’s HELP program, which helps individuals find employment, without taking away health insurance.

Medicaid expansion will be rolling out April 1st. Our state agencies are quickly working to make sure this is a smooth process. Let’s not rush into any additional requirements or red-tape for parents and individuals in the coverage gap. Instead, let’s support an effective, efficient system that will allow Utahns to access the care they need.

In other words, let’s help Utahns work -- by ensuring they can get, and stay, healthy.



JessieJessie Mandle, Senior Health Policy Analyst, joined the organization in 2015. Prior to joining Voices for Utah Children, Jessie was a Senior Program Planner with the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and Their Families, where she focused on nutrition and Out of School Time areas. Jessie also worked as a policy researcher in Johannesburg, South Africa and oversaw a CDC grant for Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services in Portland, Oregon. Most recently, she worked with the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Cancer Action Network. Jessie has a Master's degree in Public Heath from Portland State University and a B.A. in Government from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.