Trib editorial: Stop blocking state Medicaid reform
Welfare-to-work reforms in Kansas and Maine have led thousands of formerly government-dependent individuals to independence and increased incomes. So why is Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf — mired in a $2.2 billion state deficit and still with no balanced budget — so adamantly opposed to a similar reform advanced by state lawmakers?
Contrary to exclamations from the commonwealth’s disciples of dependency, the Human Services Code approved by lawmakers doesn’t throw anybody off Medicaid. Rather, it instructs Wolf to request a federal waiver to allow Pennsylvania to impose “reasonable employment or job search requirements for non-disabled, non-pregnant, non-elderly Medicaid eligible adults,” according to the legislation.
A similar change for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) recipients in Kansas and Maine made a remarkable improvement in their lives. As the Commonwealth Foundation documents, the addition of a work requirement for able-bodied, non-elderly adults without dependent children helped fully half of former SNAP recipients in both states to more than double their incomes.
In Pennsylvania, which hasn’t yet figured out how to pay for all it owes, the change could move hundreds of thousands of qualifying adults from Medicaid into income-sustaining jobs.
This isn’t about creating more hoops for people to jump through. It’s about providing the motivation for fit adults to break the cycle of state dependency.