Medicaid: Work requirement not an outrageous idea

Officials are looking at the possibility of adding a work requirement for the 170,000 people in the Mountain State covered by Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. According to Jeremiah Samples, deputy secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, this would affect about 30 percent of Medicaid-expansion households.

“At the end of the day, the best thing we can do at DHHR for our able-bodied population is to get them into the workforce, without question,” Samples told the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

It seems like common sense. If a person is able, he or she should be working — contributing, rather than remaining stuck in the poverty cycle that has been supported by ever-increasing government entitlements for generations. In fact, Samples says the hope would be that resources could be pooled so that work requirements for Medicaid fall in line with food stamps, unemployment and other programs administered by the DHHR.

Predictably, the opposition ran along these lines:

“If health care is a human right, how can you say we’re not going to give you health care if you’re not working?”

“A lot of people just have a mental or physical weakness that keeps them from being as responsible as we all would like them to be,” and;

Work requirements would mean “lots of extra paperwork.” (Oh, the horror.)

Those complaints came from health policy advocate Renate Pore, who also told the Gazette-Mail “I think work is important for people, but I don’t think we should be doing it by withholding health insurance.”

But, of course, no one is suggesting withholding health insurance from those who are truly unable to work.

Samples and others in Charleston are right to be looking for ways to get more people back into the workforce, and away from total government dependence. Let us hope the correct mix of ideas can be found to put such a plan in place.