Work mandate for Medicaid coverage could force many Utahns to lose coverage, or it could be a blessing

Photo by Darrin Klimick, iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Thousands of Utahns could be at risk of losing health care under President Donald Trump’s work mandate for Medicaid coverage. On the other hand, requiring Utahns to prove they are working to receive Medicaid coverage could be “a blessing in their lives to move forward,” said Paul Edwards, Gov. Gary Herbert’s deputy chief of staff.

Utah is one of 10 states that has filed for a waiver to apply Trump’s plan for a Medicaid work mandate. This plan would allow states to implement work requirements for Medicaid recipients.

If put in place, a work mandate for Medicaid coverage could leave over 6.3 million Americans without health care, according to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress. That would include thousands of Utahns who would be at risk of losing health care, said Stacy Stanford, health policy analyst for Utah Health Policy Project.

Purpose of a work mandate

A work mandate for Medicaid coverage would be beneficial for most Medicaid recipients in the long run, Edwards said.  

“We really see this as an important part in the overall support package for individuals who found themselves in poverty,” Edwards said. “If they are needing these kinds of services because they are in financial straits and if they are in a position, physically and mentally, to take on the added responsibility of work, it would really be a blessing and an opportunity for them to become self-supportive.”

Politicians, like Herbert and Trump, who believe work requirements for Medicaid will help people become self-supportive and be lifted out of poverty are out of touch, Stanford said.

“A majority of people on Medicaid across the country are already working,” Stanford said. “That’s true in Utah as well. They’re either already employed or they’re disabled, they’re caregivers or they’re going to school.”

Medicaid recipients, like people who are disabled or have a condition that prevents them from working, would be exempt from a work mandate, Edwards said.

One benefit to the state in having people dropped from Medicaid coverage could be saving taxpayer dollars, but Edwards said that is not the motivation for Herbert supporting a work mandate.

“If there is a fiscal benefit, all the better,” Edwards said. “But Gov. Gary Herbert’s support of this is less about the financial aspects, but really more about helping the individuals.”

Stanford said a work mandate would not save the state any money because of all the money that would be spent enforcing it.

“It really is wasteful and is attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” Stanford said. “People aren’t sitting at home eating Cheetos and taking in all the benefits of Medicaid. For the most part, people don’t enjoy not working.”

Finding a job after work mandate

Taking Medicaid away from people who are unemployed would also not help them find a job any faster, Stanford said.

“The first thing that needs to happen to have your health care taken care of is to be able to go see the doctor and address any chronic issues or acute issues,” Stanford said. “Then you can look for employment and be able to hold a job better.”

Edwards said if a work mandate for Medicaid coverage is implemented in Utah, the state would provide resources for people to find work easier.

“This wouldn’t just be ‘go figure out how to get a job,’” Edwards said. “It would come with case management and support that would help them identify the best work opportunities for them and their circumstances.”

Email: sricks@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @SpencerRicks

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • comments January 18, 2018 at 7:19 pm

    Better yet we put all these “medicaid undesirables” into camps to await eventual deportation or extermination. right?

    The irony of it is that Republicans have allowed in tens of millions of illegals to flood in under their watch and set up shop with hoards of anchor babies, and its these same illegals and their (technically legal) offspring that are draining the medicaid system.

    So being on medicaid is stopping people from working? As far as I’ve heard medicaid isn’t paying cash allowances every month? So you go to work at some garbage-pay service job with not benefits, and even tho the pay is pathetic its enough to disqualify someone from the program, doesn’t that happen?

    The whole idea is almost like saying: THESE PEOPLE WON’T GET JOBS BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE SICK!

    does anyone enjoy going to doctors or being ill, or even using medicaid in the first place?

  • comments January 18, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    Back before the socialized systems of medicaid and medicare, when the old and frail or disabled became too ill or feeble to take care of themselves they’d either have to depend on family, or they’d simply be let die in the streets. If Republicans had their way they’d destroy all safety nets and have us go back to those sort of times. If you can’t afford to pay you will simply be let die.

    • comments January 18, 2018 at 7:26 pm

      *simply be let to die

  • comments January 18, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    I forgot the VA medical system, also a fully socialist system.

  • jaltair January 18, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    My understanding is people who work, even part time, or if they volunteer, they will be eligible for Medicaid. Not sure how the final new system will manage. Those who are disabled below poverty level are eligible. If people become disabled, they could be eligible. No one is left on the streets to die. Emergency rooms have to evaluate. Counties have to help. This is how it used to be before Obama care. There is a lot of hysteria over nothing.

  • Close The Borders January 18, 2018 at 10:43 pm

    I know of a woman who is totally scamming the Medicaid system right now! She has had the state of Utah pay to have her Knees scraped, and 2 days later went Camping! She is now having an implant put in her back for back pain. The Dr. says to not do any lifting, but she is going shopping, and running all over! Her only reason for all this, so she can get MORE Social Security Disability! She has some Dr. saying that her kids are all ADHD or Autistic! Why are the the kids like that? SHE had them every 9 months. You know how the Dr. says when you have to let yourself heal after having a baby? Not this gal! She crapped kids one right after the other! She is getting Medicaid, Food Stamps, Bishops Food Orders, she is totally living off the backs of the people of Utah, oh, and her husband WORKS, and is eligible for his company’s insurance! Wake up people, she is NOT the only one!

    • comments January 19, 2018 at 12:14 am

      Firstly, a person doesn’t get more Social Security Disability for becoming more disabled. It’s based on what they’ve paid into the system, and once the program deems them disabled they get a set amount based on what they’ve paid into the system. Going camping after a knee scraping isn’t unreasonable. It’s an outpatient procedure that’s supposed to lessen arthritic pain. Here I am trying to lecture an idiot… meh

    • John January 19, 2018 at 8:35 pm

      Instead of crying about it, here’s the place to complain… https://www.ssa.gov/fraudreport/oig/public_fraud_reporting/form.htm

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