The trouble with Medicaid work requirements

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, acting out of an abundance of compassion, is doing a favor to people on Medicaid: forcing them to work or lose their coverage. “Human beings want to be treated with dignity and respect,” he says. “And we’re going to give them that opportunity.” Now all he has to do is stand back and accept their gratitude.

He shouldn’t hold his breath. In becoming the first state to impose a work requirement for Medicaid, something that needed the approval of the Trump administration, Kentucky is not likely to move many people into the dignity of paid employment. It’s more likely to move them into the indignity of doing without medical care until illness or injury forces a visit to the emergency room.

Bevin is a multimillionaire who takes a dim view of the government’s acting to ensure health insurance for everyone. “I grew up in poverty,” he says. “I grew up with no access to health care ever. I had no health care of any kind until I was an active-duty Army officer in my 20s.”

His claim of poverty is hard to square with the fact that his father worked in a wood mill and his mother in a hospital. Bevin graduated from Washington and Lee University, which had (and has) a student health clinic. When I repeatedly emailed his press aides for evidence to support his testimonial, however, I got no response.

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