HARRISBURG – Senators Scott Martin (R-13) and David G. Argall (R-29) have introduced a bill that would require able-bodied, non-elderly Medicaid recipients to seek employment or volunteer in the community as a condition of receiving benefits.
Senate Bill 847 would require Medicaid recipients to either work, seek employment, participate in job training programs, or volunteer in their community in order to continue to receive benefits. The approach is similar to requirements already in place for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The bill only applies to able-bodied Medicaid recipients who are capable of working. Exceptions are included for individuals who are under the age of 18 or over the age of 65, disabled, pregnant, receiving mental health or addiction treatment, or the primary caregiver for someone who is under the age of 6, permanently disabled or receiving hospice care.
“The premise of the bill is simple – if a person on Medicaid is perfectly capable of holding down a job or contributing to their community, then they should earn their benefits from taxpayers,” Martin said. “Medicaid is a huge expense for taxpayers that grows larger every year. We need to explore ways to reduce the cost of welfare programs to ensure they are viable for future generations. We cannot achieve that goal if the recipients who are most able to work remain on the welfare rolls indefinitely.”
Pennsylvania ranks 4th in the nation in terms of total Medicaid spending, with more than $28 billion devoted to the program each year. According to the Department of Human Services, there are nearly half a million non-disabled state residents between the ages of 19 and 64 who report no income.
“Like most welfare programs, Medicaid was created to serve as a hand up, not a hand out. These programs are supposed to serve as a bridge to better things,” Argall said. “Contrary to what some people would lead you to believe, we are not kicking crutches out from under individuals with disabilities or denying care to at-risk families. We are only setting a better and fairer standard for individuals who are healthy and have the potential to work their way out of poverty and earn a better standard of living.”
Similar legislation was approved by the General Assembly in 2017 and 2018, but Governor Wolf vetoed both bills. The Senators noted that the new version of the bill expands the number of exceptions to work requirements in order to reach a compromise that they hope can earn bipartisan support.
To date, 16 states have sought permission from the federal government to enact Work and Community Engagement Requirements, and nine have been approve.
The bill was referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee for consideration.
CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535 (Senator Martin)
Josh Paul (717) 787-2637 (Senator Argall)