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Trump’s Latest Attack on Medicaid: Work Requirements

One of Trump’s top priorities since taking office has been dismantling Medicaid. TrumpCare would have destroyed Medicaid as we know it by ending its successful expansion and, for the first time, permanently transforming it into a cap system. Thankfully, we defeated TrumpCare in 2017 (and ensured it wouldn’t come back by building a Blue Wave in 2018), but Trump isn’t done coming for Medicaid yet. He’s back with a sneak attack in partnership with Republican governors: conditioning Medicaid eligibility on work requirements. Tell your governor not to line up with Trump to take health care away from people relying on Medicaid.

What Trump did

In January 2018, the Trump Administration sent a letter to state Medicaid Directors letting them know that the Administration supports the addition of work requirements as a condition of Medicaid eligibility. They characterized this as a “demonstration project”but there is no experimental value in imposing this new barrier to Medicaid eligibility. It does not further Medicaid’s objectives.

Work requirements don’t work

Proponents of work requirements in Medicaid say they are needed to prevent dependency on government aid. This makes no sense. Eight in ten adults on Medicaid already work.  And of those who don’t work, most report disabilities and illnesses preventing them from doing so.

These requirements disproportionately impact low-income people, many of whom work in seasonal and temporary jobs. The threat of losing their health care because they were out of work for a month is devastating. If you want to encourage people to work, taking away their ability to get and stay healthy is counterproductive.

Work requirements simply do not work. They already exist in the SNAP (food stamps) and TANF (cash welfare) programs, and for many, they have meant hardship. Also, studies have shown that they have done little to decrease poverty. The only purpose of these requirements is to remove people from the Medicaid rolls; in Arkansas, for example, 16,932 people lost their Medicaid coverage between September 2018 and December 2018 after the state became the first to implement a work requirement.

Click here to see if your state has requested a waiver to implement a work requirement for Medicaid.

Call scripts

Click here to call your governor and tell them: don't add a work requirement to Medicaid!

Call script for governor in a state not yet requesting work requirements

Caller: Hello! My name is <NAME> and I’m calling from <PART OF STATE>. I’m calling because I’m extremely concerned that the Trump administration is allowing states to create work requirements for Medicaid recipients. I hope Governor ____ would never apply for such a punitive policy.

Staffer: Thank you for your call. Governor ___ has not taken a position on work requirements in Medicaid.

Caller: The governor should make a statement making it clear that our state will never try and punish poor people by taking away their health care. Trump is trying to make it harder to be poor by allowing these work requirements, and we need to stand up in opposition to his schemes.

Staffer: Thank you for your comments.

Caller: Thank you. I will be following up to ensure the governor speaks out on this issue.

Script for governor in a state already requesting work requirements

Caller: Hello! My name is <NAME> and I’m calling from <PART OF STATE>. I’m calling to oppose our state’s proposal to institute a work requirement for Medicaid recipients—most of whom already do work or face serious barriers to employment, off of health care if they can’t find a job.

Staffer: Thank you for calling, but this is a policy the governor believes will reduce unemployment/poverty/dependency on the government, and we now have permission from the federal government to do implement it.

Caller: That’s just wrong. Work requirements in Medicaid will only increase poverty and make it harder for those who want to find jobs to stay healthy enough to do so. Our state needs to drop this harmful proposal and focus on improving people’s health and our economy by empowering, not punishing, those who rely on Medicaid.

Staffer: Actually, there are plenty of exemptions if people can’t find jobs. They can use volunteer hours as an alternative and if they’re determined to be disabled, it won’t apply.

Caller: How is someone supposed to find a job if they’re spending all their free time providing free labor? These exemptions are complicated and unworkable, and won’t fix the problems with Medicaid work requirements.

Staffer: Thank you for your comments, I will pass them on.

Caller: Thank you. I will continue to follow up to oppose implementing these burdensome requirements.