Capitol Correspondence - 09.15.20

Big Picture: Harvard Research Finds Medicaid Work Requirements Did Not Boost Employment

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ANCOR is keeping its members informed of broader discussions surrounding Medicaid work requirements because of our longstanding concern that these requirements could have adverse effects on people with disabilities and the Direct Support Professional workforce that supports them. As stated in a Harvard research paper summarized by Health Affairs:

“In June 2018 Arkansas became the first US state to implement work requirements in Medicaid, requiring adults ages 30–49 to work twenty hours a week, participate in “community engagement” activities, or qualify for an exemption to maintain coverage. By April 2019, when a federal judge put the policy on hold, 18,000 adults had already lost coverage. We analyze the policy’s effects before and after these events, using a telephone survey performed in late 2019 of 2,706 low-income adults in Arkansas and three control states compared with data from 2016 and 2018. We have four main findings. First, most of the Medicaid coverage losses in 2018 were reversed in 2019 after the court order. Second, work requirements did not increase employment over eighteen months of follow-up. Third, people in Arkansas ages 30–49 who had lost Medicaid in the prior year experienced adverse consequences: 50 percent reported serious problems paying off medical debt, 56 percent delayed care because of cost, and 64 percent delayed taking medications because of cost. These rates were significantly higher than among Arkansans who remained in Medicaid all year. Finally, awareness of the work requirements remained poor, with more than 70 percent of Arkansans unsure whether the policy was in effect.”