Medical Assistance Work Requirement Before Senate
By Leo Knepper
On Tuesday (April 17) the Pennsylvania House passed HB 2138 with bipartisan support. This legislation would make important changes to Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance (MA) program. Welfare programs too often measure their success by the number of people enrolled; not how many people achieve independence. HB 2138 reforms the MA program by adding work requirements for able-bodied adults. Work requirements should be a cornerstone of any welfare reform proposal. According to the sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Matt Dowling, 51 percent of able-bodied MA recipients do not work.
At one-time MA was truly limited to the neediest, but that changed with Obamacare. Now nearly 20 percent of the US population are enrolled in MA plans. By adding work, job search, and training requirements, Rep. Dowling is ensuring that people who can work are encouraged to attain independence. It is worth noting that HB 2138 exempts several groups of people from the work search requirements. The exemptions include some of the most vulnerable members of society like pregnant women, people who are in a mental institution, children and senior citizens.
Adding work requirements does increase administrative costs for the state. However, those costs will be more than offset by the savings generated by people who are able to move off of MA. There are thousands of empty skilled labor and manufacturing jobs across the state, helping people prepare for that work and off of public assistance is a win for everyone.
HB 2138 now moves to the Senate.