Missing the boat on Medicaid work requirements

Regarding the Jan. 13 editorial “A solution in search of a problem”:

I certainly oppose any Medicaid work requirement to the extent it is used to push people off Medicaid, and I am otherwise open to other reasons this policy is ill-advised. But the editorial’s rationale for opposing the policy was not persuasive. If 60 percent of adults already work, then 40 percent, or more than 20 million people, do not.

Many in this group may be incapable of work for physical or psychological reasons. But many may be able to work. And isn’t work a good thing to get people out of poverty and gain self-esteem? Perhaps the editorial was saying that this is all a sham to push people off Medicaid; in which case, why not just say so?

Edward M. Basile, Washington

Wow. The Jan. 13 editorial on Medicaid missed the boat on the supposedly factual basis for arguing against Medicaid work requirements. The editorial said, “The majority of the target population already work (60 percent) or live with a worker (79 percent).” In recent years, the labor participation rate of U.S. workers hit its lowest point in more than four decades (since the late 1970s, to be exact).

The labor force participation rate is defined as the section of working population in the 16-to-64 age group in the economy currently employed or seeking employment. In December 2017, the participation rate was 62.7 percent. Given that the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis estimates that there are approximately 205 million people in the 15-to-64 age group, that means approximately 76 million people are not working and not looking for work. That to me is a factual basis for having some level of requirements for individuals requesting Medicaid to prove they cannot find work, no different from unemployment-insurance payments.

Robert Rzepka, Alexandria

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