It’s ‘back to work’ for most people, including state lawmakers. Some of them want to see even more people working, especially those on Medicaid.
We should know whether or not a waiver submitted by the governor to add work requirements onto Medicaid has been approved within the next few months. In anticipation, lawmakers and the medical community are speaking out on the controversial move.
The idea is simple: If the thousands of able-bodied people who have Medicaid work more they can make more money and provide for their families.
“There are a lot of intangible values that comes with getting up, getting out, having a job, and doing something that provides value not only to an employer somewhere but to oneself,” said Republican District 3 State Senator Arthur Orr.
But as for the execution, policy centers report it will hurt working moms the most and a letter from the state Medical Association says work requirements would lead to loss of coverage for low-income people. The association says that would make the number of ER visits shoot up, which would hurt patients’ wallets and hospitals if they aren’t compensated.
“My expectation is for those individuals who are pushing this work requirement to really stop playing politics and talk to the folks, the recipients of the services,” said Democratic State House minority leader Anthony Daniels.
One fear is many people would earn too much to afford Medicaid, but still not enough to afford other coverage. Lawmakers who support the requirement say there are insurance plans to help those people on the Health Insurance Marketplace.
The Kaiser Family Foundation reports 75,000 people are in the coverage gap in Alabama, meaning they make too much money for Medicaid and too little for Marketplace premium tax credits.
Orr says the work requirements include volunteering and substance abuse counseling. Lawmakers head to Montgomery the first week of January and the legislative session begins the first week of March.