Just Over Half of Americans Surveyed Support Medicaid Work Requirements

Christina Mattina

A newly released poll by Morning Consult/Politico finds that 51% of Americans surveyed support the idea of requiring individuals to work in order to be eligible for Medicaid.
 
The survey of nearly 2000 registered voters was conducted between August 10th and 14th. Among the dozens of questions on political opinions was a prompt that asked whether respondents support or oppose requiring Medicaid enrollees to have a job to be eligible for the program.
 
Of the total sample of 1997 voters, 51% supported such requirements (24% strongly and 27% somewhat), while 37% opposed them (19% strongly and 18% somewhat). The remaining 13% were not sure or had no opinion. Further breakdowns by respondent demographic groups revealed that opinions seemed to be correlated with political leaning and their approval of the President.
 
Respondents who strongly approve of the job Donald Trump is doing as President were the group with the highest rates of strong support for Medicaid work requirements, at 43%. In contrast, those who strongly disapprove of the President’s job performance were among the most likely to strongly oppose work requirements, as 30% of them did. Slightly higher rates of strong opposition were observed among unemployed people (33%) and Democratic women (32%).
 
Morning Consult’s analysis of responses to this question noted that no state currently has work requirements for Medicaid in place. However, since CMS under the Trump administration indicated in a letter that it would be open to work requirements, 4 states have submitted requests for waivers that would allow them to implement such policies. These waivers generally specify that able-bodied Medicaid beneficiaries would need to work a certain number of hours per week or participate in an education, training, or job search program in order to stay eligible for benefits.
 
A proposed overhaul in Florida, for instance, would require recipients to demonstrate employment or participation in one of the aforementioned programs, as well as impose a small cost-sharing amount of $10 to $15 per month. If individuals do not meet the work requirements or pay the premiums, they would be barred from receiving Medicaid assistance for 12 months.
 
Observers have raised questions about how many people could potentially be impacted by work requirements, considering the varying exemptions that each state would allow. Florida’s proposal would exempt disabled beneficiaries, minors with children, caretakers of disabled family members, single parents of infants, and those who had worked “diligently” before an extraordinary circumstance made them unable to work. Wisconsin’s waiver proposal would exempt several of those same populations, as well as people with mental illness, those in substance abuse treatment, and high school or college students over age 19.
 
Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation, was quoted in the Morning Consult analysis as predicting that “a very small number of people” would feel the impact of work requirements. Instead, the question is “more an ideological debate,” he said.
 
This ideological debate and its partisan divides were reflected in a Kaiser Health Tracking Poll released this May. In the poll, more than half (52%) of Republicans stated they viewed Medicaid as similar to welfare programs for the poor, like food stamps, while almost three-fourths (73%) of Democrats perceived Medicaid as more like Medicare and other health insurance programs that help people afford healthcare.
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