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New research: More than half of Medicaid expansion enrollees don’t work

New research: More than half of Medicaid expansion enrollees don’t work

Wayne Hoffman
August 3, 2018
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August 3, 2018

Data from numerous ObamaCare expansion states reveal that, if new enrollees are not required to work, they will not work—at all. Based on recent research, this conclusion bodes ill for Idaho should Medicaid expansion pass in November.

A new report authored by the nonpartisan Foundation for Government Accountability asserts that more than half of Medicaid expansion enrollees across the country don’t have jobs. FGA said of the 12.4 million Medicaid expansion enrollees nationwide, 6.8 million are not working.

FGA says 70 percent of the Medicaid-expansion enrollees in Illinois aren’t working, the highest percentage of the dozen states surveyed. Of Idaho’s neighbors, Montana and Nevada have high percentages of Medicaid enrollees not having a job, near 60 percent each.

Released last month, The FGA report, ObamaCare Isn’t Working, concludes, “With no work requirement or time limit, ObamaCare effectively transformed Medicaid—a program originally intended to serve the elderly and disabled—into a new welfare trap for able-bodied adults. New data from more than a dozen ObamaCare expansion states reveal that, if expansion enrollees are not required to work, they will not—at all.”

Medicaid expansion proponents were quick to highlight what they consider flaws in the FGA’s methodology. A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation researcher contends FGA’s research doesn’t consider individuals who might be exempt from work requirements. Said individuals might not be working because they’re involved in “qualifying activities,” such as job searches, training, and volunteer activities, say the researcher and other FGA detractors.

This type of argument is standard fare for defenders of government-driven “charity.” A lot of government welfare programs have work requirements. Many of those work requirements also have exemptions that allow individuals to escape work mandates. In many cases, work exemptions are so broad, there are as many people exempt from working as are required to hold a job.

What is not in dispute: Most Medicaid expansion participants don’t work and won’t work.  

Idaho’s Proposition 2, the November initiative financed by out-of-state special interests and liberal advocacy groups, contains no work requirements. Thus, there’s nothing in the proposal to suggest that Idaho’s results will be any different from the states that have implemented Medicaid expansion.

Is it possible that work requirements could be added later? Sure, but we know that's unlikely to happen. Such proposals would be fought by the same groups that push for government handouts. Furthermore, revisions to Medicaid expansion, should it pass in November, will be predictably more difficult to enact: Lawmakers would likely claim “the will of the voters [people]” and leave Medicaid expansion as voters passed it—without work requirements.

In this economy, there are few real reasons for not having a job. Something is amiss when more than half of any population can’t find work when employers are actively seeking employees. It’s even more worrisome when talking about Medicaid expansion’s target population: working-age, childless adults who are able to work. That more than half of the individuals enrolled in Medicaid as a result of expansion simply won’t work ought to give Idaho voters real pause.

In sum, Medicaid expansion in other states makes the ablest of people dependent on government programs. Further, expansion makes them less likely to hold jobs, earn a living, fend for themselves, and secure their own economic well being. This doesn’t sound like the kind of future that’s right for Idaho.


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