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HB 2138 Would Hurt Workers and People with Disabilities while Increasing Pennsylvania’s Medicaid Costs

Public Benefits

HB 2138 Would Hurt Workers and People with Disabilities while Increasing Pennsylvania’s Medicaid Costs

Date Posted: 
04/06/2018

Pennsylvania House Bill (HB) 2138 would add new work requirements to Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program, which provides life and health saving insurance coverage for 1.7 million adults, most of whom are working already. 

Medicaid work requirements are a bad idea for Pennsylvania!  Work requirements create massive amounts of new and expensive red tape for Medicaid enrollees and welfare offices.  Red tape at overwhelmed welfare offices will result in many workers and people with serious health concerns being cut off of Medicaid.

Work requirements cut people off of Medicaid, but increase states’ Medicaid costs.  Work requirements are so expensive to administer, states end up spending more money to cover fewer people.

Work requirements don’t make financial sense for Pennsylvania taxpayers, because Pennsylvania would have to pay more money to cover fewer people. 

  • Work requirements are difficult and expensive to administer, and states must pay much of those costs.  Medicaid is a federal program, but the federal government prohibits use of federal money for Medicaid work programs.
  • States spend more to cover fewer people when work requirements are implemented.  For example, Kentucky is in the process of adding work requirements to its Medicaid program and anticipates 97,000 people will lose Medicaid as a result.  Despite covering fewer people, new reports show that the state’s Medicaid costs are going up.  Kentucky has already added $186 million to its Medicaid budget just this year, and projects that it will add another $187 million in 2019, mostly to pay for the costs of work requirements.

Most Medicaid enrollees who can work are already working, and work requirements actually hurt workers by making it harder for them to get health insurance. 

  • Most working Medicaid enrollees enroll because they cannot get health insurance from their jobs.  Medicaid helps workers get and stay healthy.  When people are healthy, they have a better shot at keeping their jobs. 

More than half of all adults enrolled in Pennsylvania Medicaid are working, and nearly three-quarters of adults are in working households.  Workers already submit paperwork to welfare offices to prove their how much they earn.  HB 2138 would force workers to turn in more paperwork to prove they are working enough hours per month.  Welfare offices are not equipped to receive and process this massive amount of new paperwork.  This new red tape will cause wrongful Medicaid terminations and lengthy delays in Medicaid approvals, cutting eligible workers off from their only health insurance option.  Workers will be forced to miss work to resolve the issues or forgo health insurance altogether.

  • Medicaid enrollees who are not working are living with disabilities, attending school, or looking for work.  HB 2138 does not include any supports, like job training, to move these enrollees into the workforce faster.  It just creates yet another barrier to employment.

Many people with serious health concerns may lose Medicaid. 

  • About 37% of Pennsylvania’s adult Medicaid enrollees have disabilities and more than half of them are potentially subject to work requirements.  A Pennsylvania Department of Human Services study shows that many Medicaid enrollees who could be subject to work requirements are diagnosed with serious chronic illnesses like pulmonary, cardiovascular, substance use, and mental health disorders that impact their ability to work.
  • People with serious health concerns already have great difficulty navigating public benefits rules on medical exemptions and getting the right paperwork filled out by their doctors’ offices to prove their medical conditions.  Overwhelmed welfare offices are not equipped to properly receive and process the massive amount of new paperwork that would be required. 

Just four years ago, Pennsylvania added unnecessary red tape to its Medicaid program, with disastrous results.

  • The Healthy Pennsylvania initiative of 2014 added new layers of red tape to Medicaid and the results were disastrous. Drug and alcohol treatment providers were not paid for thousands of people who received treatment.  Ultimately, Pennsylvania removed these barriers to Medicaid access and adopted the straightforward Medicaid program we have today. Don’t create new red tape!