It is hard to imagine a federal court decision in Kentucky could have ripple effects in Kansas, but that is what happened this past week when it comes to Medicaid.
A federal judge recently blocked the state of Kentucky from requiring work as a condition of Medicaid eligibility, ruling that imposing such a requirement violates federal law and the program’s purpose of providing health care to the most vulnerable Americans.
The court ruling confirms our view at the Alliance that work requirements do nothing to improve health or enhance access to care. Instead, such mandates are costly and punitive, wasting millions of dollars to create bureaucratic obstacles to care and ultimately covering fewer people.
In Kansas, Governor Jeff Colyer has announced that the state will continue to pursue a plan to impose work requirements for KanCare, the Kansas Medicaid program, despite the federal court ruling prohibiting it.
KanCare provides health coverage mostly for children, but also low-income parents, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities. Even in states that have expanded Medicaid, which does not include Kansas, the additional people covered are low-income and often disabled.
Nevertheless, politicians in many states, including Kansas, want to require that those on Medicaid work or lose their benefits. They believe that Medicaid enrollees choose unemployment and must be given the proper “incentives” to join the work force.
There is no evidence to support this belief. The majority of Medicaid enrollees who are able to work, do work, often in multiple jobs. Most of the rest are too young, too old, too disabled, or too sick to have regular employment. And taking away their health coverage will not help them find a job.
The Alliance for a Healthy Kansas is holding forums in communities throughout the state this summer to discuss this and other health care issues important to Kansas families.
If you believe that instead of taking health care away from hard working Kansans we should be working on a plan expand coverage and reduce barriers to care, please join us. A list of upcoming events can be found here http://www.expandkancare.com/events/.