Thousands of South Carolina’s poorest parents will lose health insurance under a state proposal to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients, a new study says.
Between 5,000 and 14,000 S.C. parents would lose their Medicaid coverage in the first year such a policy is in force, according to a report released Friday by S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center and Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.
By the fifth year, the number of low-income parents losing coverage would rise to between 9,000 and 26,000, according to the report.
And when parents lose insurance, their children are at greater risk of losing coverage, too, the report’s authors said.
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South Carolina is seeking permission from the federal government to require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to prove they are working at least 80 hours a month, seeking work or going to school.
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, a Richland Republican, decided to seek the work requirements in January, after President Donald Trump said he would make it easier for state’s to impose work requirements for Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
State officials say the proposal’s goal is to encourage able-bodied Medicaid recipients to find work.
A vast majority of S.C. residents in danger of losing health coverage under the policy are mothers and are mostly African American, the report says.
The state has estimated only 1,600 Medicaid recipients would lose coverage in the first year, reaching 3,000 by the fifth year. However, those estimates are grossly underestimated, said Joan Alker, the Center for Children’s executive director, and Appleseed executive director Sue Berkowitz.
Families impacted by the policy would be among the state’s most vulnerable with incomes of $1,160 a month for a family of three, Alker said.
“These are struggling families, mostly moms, and we know that when there is a lack of healthcare among parents, we know that ultimately harms children,” Berkowitz said.
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