Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore
President Donald Trump loves to say that he was elected by, and is here to serve, the “forgotten men and women” of America.
Whoever Trump has in mind when he uses that phrase, it would be hard to come up with people more forgotten than Medicaid recipients. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 4 in 10 adult Medicaid recipients do not even use email, while 3 in 10 never use a computer at all.
So it is galling to see the new report from Arkansas, detailing how the Medicaid work requirements the state GOP developed, with the Trump administration’s encouragement, are jeopardizing the health coverage of these vulnerable members of society.
The rules require able-bodied adults in Arkansas to register their work activity with state health administrators, proving they work at least 80 hours a month. New state data show over 12,700 people who are required to meet this standard have not, and of that group, 12,500 of them simply failed to log onto the state website and report their hours, regardless of whether or not they actually work enough hours.
According to The Hill, this is all despite the fact that “the vast majority said they were already meeting similar work reporting requirements under the state’s SNAP, or food stamp, program,” implying that many of these “forgotten men and women” are in fact working, but still in danger of losing their coverage to the work requirements because of the difficulty in reporting their work.
Before he became president, Trump repeatedly stated that there would be no cuts to Medicaid if he was elected.
Medicaid work requirements, which are currently being developed in several Republican-controlled states, are a solution to a problem that does not exist. Kaiser estimates 6 in 10 nondisabled, working-age adults on Medicaid already work, and the vast majority of those who don’t are caregivers, homemakers, or students.
Moreover, implementing these requirements may not even save states money, because of the cost of enforcing them — when Kentucky was preparing to roll out its work requirement program, administrative costs from all spiked 40 percent as a result of all the infrastructure they had to put in place to check people are working.
A federal judge blocked Kentucky’s Medicaid requirement in June, days before it could take effect, citing the Trump administration’s inability to demonstrate the change would further the mission of the Medicaid program or make people healthier. A new lawsuit, filed on Tuesday by the National Health Law Program and the Southern Poverty Law Center, seeks to strike down the requirements in Arkansas as well.