Missouri Senate Resolution Proposes Work Requirements for Medicaid Recipients

As proponents of Medicaid expansion gather signatures to place the issue on the November ballot, a proposed Missouri Senate resolution would place an alternative vision of Medicaid on the ballot for consideration this fall. SJR 60, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville), would require those receiving Medicaid benefits who do not meet exemption criteria to work 80 hours per month in order to continue to qualify. The resolution also includes provisions that would require medical insurance policies to provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, and that family policies cover young adults up to 26 years of age.  

Current Medicaid recipients typically do not qualify for coverage under the program if they work, because income thresholds are so low. If Medicaid were expanded, as many as 250,000 newly eligible low-income workers could obtain coverage under the program. It is this expanded population that would face the work requirements. The Missouri bishops issued a statement back in October in support of the expansion of Medicaid in order to provide healthcare coverage for the working poor and because of the importance of the program to the healthcare delivery system in Missouri. More information about this issue can be found on the MCC website.

The MCC testified in opposition to the work requirements provision, arguing that such requirements will ultimately result in large numbers of low-income workers falling off the roles as they face difficulties complying with the requirements or trouble obtaining exemptions under the proposal. Low-income workers tend to work in industries (food service, construction, retail, and home health) with unstable hours and face barriers getting to work due to lack of transportation, unstable housing, and childcare expenses. In addition, the state social service infrastructure isn't expected to be prepared to successfully implement such work requirements for such a large population.

Federal courts have so far struck down work requirements implemented in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Michigan, finding that the federal law governing Medicaid was intended to provide healthcare coverage, not require work. States seeking to require work must fund the infrastructure themselves, adding to the expense of implementing the program, and costing states millions of dollars in the process. The issue is expected to ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

March 6, 2020 - 11:13am

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