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Medicaid Work Requirements Make No Sense for Texas - Or Other States

This week the Trump Administration announced that it will now approve states' requests to establish Medicaid work requirements under certain circumstances.

The concept is a bad idea for all states, but especially for Texas. Ninety-six percent of Texans enrolled in Medicaid are children, seniors, pregnant women, or people with significant disabilities - not exactly great candidates for work requirements! In fact, the federal government's announcement notes that people in these and certain other categories should not be the focus of work requirements.

A tiny slice of Texas' Medicaid population includes parents with very low incomes, some of whom the state could end up targeting with work requirements. However, we know from national data that most adults enrolled in Medicaid are already working, and those who aren't working are often caring for young children or sick parents, going to school, coping with a serious illness or disability, or unsuccessfully looking for work already. And in some cases, the health care they receive through Medicaid is precisely what helps them get healthy enough to get a job.

In other words, rather than promoting work, establishing Medicaid work requirements in Texas would cut off health care for vulnerable Texans, hurt families, and make it harder for some Texans to get a job.

Clearly it makes no sense for Texas to develop the cumbersome bureaucracy and paperwork requirements needed to target a tiny segment of the state's population with such a counterproductive policy. Fortunately, Texas is not one of the 10 states that has already applied to the federal government for permission to establish Medicaid work requirements. Nonetheless, some state leaders, such as Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Charles Schwertner, have already expressed their interest in pursuing this policy.