Seeing court action pending in other states, Arizona is suspending its efforts to require Medicaid recipients to work if they can. The plan had been for the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System to require work, volunteering or education for about 120,000 people. While the idea seems to have merit, perhaps a good economy is a better alternative.
The Trump administration has favored work requirements, and some Arizona politicians agreed. Meanwhile, court decisions regarding similar requirements in other states are pending. AHCCCS said on its website that “implementation is being temporarily delayed, as court cases in other states play out, to avoid disruptions to and protect Arizona’s most vulnerable members.” Trump’s administration had approved Arizona’s plans to require work beginning next week.
In March, a federal judge blocked work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky, saying that they ran counter to the mandate to provide health care to needy people. Arizona at that time planned to go ahead. But other states have been in play also, nearly 20 in total. In Maine, a switch to a Democratic governor led to dropping the requirement.
Trump last year signed an executive order directing cabinet agencies to require or strengthen mandates for work tied to federal benefits.
Meanwhile, employment has grown strongly during Trump’s presidency, and wages have risen as well. This follows several years of anemic job growth when millions of Americans had given up working and effectively retired early. Disability claims rose as well. Now, people have found more incentive to work, and that seems to be a growing trend.
The work requirement may or may not prove to be a practical rule, but it is clear that having more people working will benefit those who already are doing so by strengthening the benefit programs that affect them. It also will contribute to the overall well-being of those who are returning to or just entering the workforce.