Overdue Medicaid bill is commonsense approach

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

If the liberal-leaning Post Dispatch newspaper is anything, it’s predictable.

In an article last week critical of a Republican bill to impose work requirements for some Medicaid recipients, the predictable Post call the idea a “controversial plan that could strip tens of thousands of low-income people of their health care benefits.”

But we view the legislation as a long-overdue commonsense approach that would require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to either work, attend school, search for a job or volunteer at least 80 hours a month to keep their taxpayer-funded health care benefits.

Here’s who would be potentially impacted — participants who are between 19-64, who are not medically unable to work, who are not pregnant or caring for a child under the age of 1.

A handful of other states have already imposed such requirements which requires federal government approval.

An estimate by the bill’s sponsors says that 70,000-90,000 people on Medicaid in Missouri would be impacted. That’s less than 10 percent of the enrollees.

At the same time, similar work requirements are under consideration for food stamp recipients in Missouri. A like measure was stalled in the Missouri Legislature last year that would remove 42,000 people from the food stamp rolls unless they complied with the work requirements.

Medicaid payments in Missouri take nearly a third of the entire state budget. And that number will increase as time passes.

Imposing a work requirement or school training is a path up the economic ladder for countless Missourians.

Fraud is a constant factor in the Medicaid industry and far too many of us know of examples of those gaming the system and costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

This measure is not controversial. This measure is a sensible approach toward motivating citizens to join the workforce and put them on a path toward self-sufficiency.

The bill under consideration this year is just the latest in a number of efforts by the state to decrease the number of Missourians receiving public assistance to try and reduce costs.

No one on either side of the political aisle wants to deny benefits to the truly needy. And if those able-bodied citizens comply with the work requirement, they will continue to receive the same benefits.

Our entitlement approach to addressing the needs of society requires a delicate balance between those in need and those who could help provide for their needs.

Requiring those able to work or those seeking additional education to meet these work guidelines is a step in the right direction both for the state and those receiving the aid.

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