By the Editorial Board | July 14, 2019
A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine provides considerable evidence that Medicaid work requirements, even if they sound good on paper, are in practice simply an architecture of cruelty that produces no discernible positive effects, simply a lot of pain.
The study, which involved surveying thousands of people in the Medicaid expansion-eligible population in Arkansas and three similar states without work requirements, found that about a third of those subject to work requirements had no idea there were requirements, and nearly half didn’t know whether the requirements applied to them. And about one-third said they didn’t have internet access, so they were unable to meet the reporting requirements even though 95 percent of them met the actual work requirements. That’s partly because Arkansas, like Idaho, has a significant low-income rural population.
The result was thousands of Arkansans losing the coverage they qualified for, not because they refused to work, but because the complicated bureaucracy lawmakers had constructed was simply too difficult for struggling low-income families to navigate.