The Minnesota House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, is considering legislation that would make some low-income Medicaid enrollees work to get health insurance.
Medicaid allows low-income individuals, families with children, seniors, the blind and the disabled to get health insurance. The program is funded by state and federal dollars.
In Minnesota it’s called Medical Assistance, and it provides health care coverage to over 1 million low-income people each month. According to the Minnesota Department Human Services, 65 percent of those covered are families with children.
Medicaid was expanded to include more low-income people when the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) was passed.
In April 2018, President Donald Trump issued an executive order allowing states to adopt work requirements for Medicaid.
There are income guidelines to qualify for Medicaid in Minnesota. The maximum income level per year for an individual is $16,643 and it is $33,948 for a household of four.
The eligibility is based on income, number of people in the family and other considerations.
The enrollees buy the insurance policy using a combination of their co-pays and Medicaid funds.
Taxpayers must decide if helping low-income families, particularly those with children, is good policy.
Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said work requirements are good policy.
A study by the Kaiser Foundation revealed that 80 percent of individuals enrolled in Medicaid are in working families and working themselves. According to the study, one-third of enrollees were not working because of illness and disability. Another study of those who became eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, done by Hennepin County Human Services for years 2011-2014, found half of the new enrollees were working.
To be sure, not all the people on Medicaid work, but critics of the work requirement say that more assessing, deciding and sorting may cost more money than the new program would be worth.
Most Minnesotans will agree that the vulnerable among us should not have to work to get health care.
Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers Inc.