I recently supported Senate legislation to adopt workforce engagement thresholds for certain able-bodied adults on Medicaid.
The goal of this reform is to empower those who can work to realize their full potential in a rewarding career. People are healthier and happier when they are working, and by encouraging people to find work or improve their ability to get a job, we can help them improve their health and better provide for their families.
Senate Bill 897 would require able-bodied adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who are receiving Medicaid health benefits to work, receive job training or get an education (or a combination of any of the three) for an average of 29 hours per week.
The legislation has many important exemptions to focus on encouraging self-reliance and preparing people for good careers and, ultimately, achievement of the American dream.
It would not apply to seniors, pregnant women, a caretaker of a child under age 6, people with disabilities or their caregivers, the medically frail, residents under age 21 who were in foster care, caretakers of incapacitated people, individuals seeking substance use disorder treatment, those receiving unemployment benefits, ex-prisoners released in the last six months, people with medical conditions that impact their ability to work, and full-time students who are emancipated or whose parents qualify for Medicaid.
Temporary “good cause” exemptions would be given for the birth or death of a family member, severe inclement weather, a temporary illness or injury, and a family emergency or other life-changing event (such as divorce or domestic violence).
Flexibility has also been included to reflect unemployment in different counties and anticipate any possible future economic changes.
Under the bill, if a county’s unemployment rate increases to 8.5 percent, its residents could meet the requirement by looking for a job. The requirement would return once the unemployment rate drops back to 5 percent or less.