CorbettCare’s work search requirements don’t make any sense. Medicaid is not a program for unemployed people. Many people who are insured through Medicaid have jobs. The problem they are having is that they don’t make enough money. It isn’t like there are all these high paying jobs out there that people just don’t know about. People work in low wage jobs because that’s what they’re qualified to do, and because we’re not assholes, we think they should have health insurance anyway. Voila! Medicaid.
The federal government is never going to approve of these work search requirements, and that’s the point. Corbett wants to say “See? I tried to expand health insurance my way but Obummer wouldn’t let me.” He thinks this inoculates him against Democrats’ charges that he refused to expand Medicaid.
The work requirements could remain a sticking point for the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. The agency has never approved work requirements or sanctions in the decades-long history of the joint-federal state Medicaid program.
Corbett’s original plan required some Medicaid enrollees to work at least 20 hours a week or repeatedly show proof they were looking for work by logging onto a state employment website or going to career fairs. Failure to participate in the work requirement by the sixth month of the year would result in disqualification.
The official request for a waiver filed Wednesday provides a little leeway. Failure to register with the website, JobGateways.pa.gov, by the 12th month of the first year would jeopardize a person’s chances for enrollment the second year.
“If the participant does not complete the required employment engagement activities in Demonstration Year 1, then eligibility would cease at the start of Demonstration Year 2,” the waiver request states.
It also states: “Non-exempt participants who successfully complete, on average, 12 approved job-training or employment-related activities per month during their first 12 months will continue to be eligible for health care coverage after the first year.”
But during a news conference earlier in the day, Public Welfare Secretary Bev Mackereth said all work requirements would be lifted the first year, and DPW would only encourage people to “voluntarily” look for work.
The work requirements would go into effect the second year, and DPW would perform two annual checks on them, she said.
Corbett has created a very stupid problem here, and forced Democrats into a very repugnant political stance that is nonetheless correct. Thousands of people could have health insurance right now if Corbett would just accept the federal Medicaid expansion dollars. But he wants to play a political game by loading down his plan with all kinds of rightwing poison pills, and dare the federal government to reject it. I want people to get health insurance as soon as possible, but the federal government does need to reject CorbettCare, because this plan legitimately sucks, and we’re going to have a Democratic Governor soon anyway who’ll just take the federal Medicaid expansion money.
(via Steve Esack)