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Florida Considers Medicaid Work Requirements and Cutting Eligibility

Yesterday, the Florida House Health & Human Services Committee voted 14-4 for HB 751, a bill that requires Medicaid enrollees to provide proof that they’re working, attending school or trying to find jobs. Florida lawmakers would still need federal approval, but these waivers have already been approved in two states.

This proposal comes as the Florida legislature also considers reducing retroactive Medicaid eligibility from 90 days to 30 days.

Work requirements don’t help better deliver care to Medicaid enrollees, and are impermissible under Medicaid law. As a matter of policy, work requirements won’t help unemployed low-income people find and keep jobs.

Almost 4 million people were enrolled in Florida’s Medicaid program as of December. More than 285,000 of the enrollees were 75 or older, and more than 1.4 million were under age 10. Most nonelderly Medicaid adults already are working or face significant barriers to work, making work requirements mostly unnecessary and punitive.

Here are a few good reasons from Families USA to keep work requirements out of Medicaid:

  • Work requirements are illegal - The Secretary cannot create entirely new Medicaid eligibility criteria under Section 1115- namely that people be working in order to receive benefits.

  • Work requirements aren’t necessary – Nearly eight in ten non-disabled, non-elderly adults live in families where at least one member works, and sixty percent work themselves.

  • Work requirements would increase the ranks of the uninsured and hurt Medicaid enrollees’ ability to work, rather than promote work – Locking unemployed Floridians out of coverage could make it harder to find work.

  • A work requirement won’t move people out of poverty – A study of the work requirement in the TANF program found that it had little or no effect in increasing work or cutting poverty.

  • There are better ways to promote work among Medicaid enrollees – To truly help increase employment rates among people with Medicaid, voluntary employment supports programs are the evidence-based way to go.

Floridians deserve better solutions to improving health care in our state. It begins with providing more access and building healthier communities, not tearing at the heart of the safety-net system.

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