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Work requirements exactly what Ohio needs to roll back the ObamaCare disaster

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Ohio lawmakers are setting an example for the rest of the nation by enacting Medicaid work requirements, which will move thousands of Ohioans out of dependency and usher them back into the workforce. And sadly, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion underscores the need for this important, common sense reform.

ObamaCare expansion has unleashed an enrollment explosion in Ohio and elsewhere. When Gov. Kasich unilaterally expanded the program in 2013, he projected that no more than 447,000 able-bodied adults would ever sign up at any point in the future. But enrollment in Ohio’s ObamaCare expansion hit more than 725,000 in 2017.

As a result, Ohio’s Medicaid expansion has already run nearly $7.1 billion over budget and shows no sign of slowing down. The state’s share of costs has already cost more than twice what was projected, diverting millions of dollars away education, public safety, and even services for the truly needy. After all, every dollar spent on ObamaCare expansion is a dollar that can’t be used for other state priorities.

{mosads}But thanks to the bold leadership of Senate President Larry Obhof and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, Ohio will soon take steps to blunt the damage ObamaCare expansion is causing Ohio. Under the new law, able-bodied adults will need to work, enroll in school, or participate in an occupational training program in order to qualify for the program.


Unlike other welfare programs, Medicaid currently has no work requirement — and it shows. According to the Ohio Department of Medicaid, nearly 60 percent of ObamaCare expansion enrollees don’t work at all. But if they worked even 28 to 29 hours per week at a minimum-wage job, virtually all would be able to escape poverty.

And these reforms are incredibly popular. A recent poll published by the Opportunity Solutions Project found that 69 percent of likely Ohio voters support requiring able-bodied adults to work, train or volunteer at least 20 hours per week in order to receive Medicaid benefits.

Nationally, employers have more than 6 million open jobs that need to be filled immediately. Unemployment rates are near record lows and 34 states have unemployment rates at or below what the Federal Reserve classifies as “full employment.” Businesses need workers. Those trapped on welfare need work.

Work requirements are a powerful tool that can move thousands of able-bodied adults in Ohio and elsewhere out of dependency and into self-sufficiency. In both cash assistance and food stamps, work requirements led to lower enrollment and less time spent on welfare, preserving limited resources for the truly needy. Better still, those leaving welfare went back to work in hundreds of different industries and saw their incomes more than double on average, earning more than enough to replace the welfare benefits they used to receive. Higher earnings boosted economic activity and even provided additional tax revenue for state and local governments.

Those leaving welfare also discovered a newfound sense of dignity and self-worth — something welfare will never provide. With the opiate epidemic that is plaguing Ohio, it is important now more than ever to get people back to work and out of Medicaid dependency. This will support their road to better health and self-sufficiency.

By enacting these reforms, Ohio lawmakers are providing able-bodied adults on welfare a new path out of dependency. They are also creating a stronger safety net, freeing up millions of dollars that can be devoted to education, public safety, and other critical priorities.

Now the proposal will move to the Trump administration for final approval. All signs suggest that approval should come quickly. In March, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma sent a letter to governors urging them to submit waivers with “innovative approaches to increase employment and community engagement.” President Trump’s 2018 budget proposed new flexibility for states to advance solutions designed to encourage work and promote personal responsibility. The House-passed American Health Care Act and Senate-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act each provided states with an easy path to implement Medicaid work requirements without federal waivers. And in August, the Trump administration rescinded Obama-era rules that weakened work requirements in other welfare programs.

The Trump administration should immediately approve Ohio’s request, along with pending requests from Arkansas, Kentucky, Maine, and other states. These common-sense Medicaid reforms will mean less dependency, higher incomes, and greater economic growth. Ohio’s legislative leadership should be commended for their role in reducing the damage caused by ObamaCare and help more able-bodied adults escape dependency.

Jonathan Ingram is vice president of research at the  Foundation for Government Accountability, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to reducing government regulation.

Tags American Health Care Act Healthcare Jonathan Ingram Medicaid Medicare ObamaCare Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Tom Price

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