Exclusive-Study: Arkansas Work Requirements Fulfilling Trump Promise to Get Americans Back to Work

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A Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) study exclusively obtained by Breitbart News on Tuesday details how  Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirement helps fulfill President Donald Trump’s goal of getting Americans off of welfare and back to work.

Breitbart News obtained a new study by FGA which studied Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirements and found that the program reduced dependence on the welfare program for low-income Americans, helped Arkansans find gainful employment, and increased the long-term stability of the program.

The study arises as an Obama-appointed federal judge struck down Arkansas and Kentucky’s Medicaid work requirement programs because they did not meet Medicaid’s purpose of providing health insurance to the needy even though one statutory objective of Medicaid is to “attain or retain capability for independence.” Medicaid’s statute on obtaining self-sufficiency would suggest that Medicaid work requirements help fulfill Medicaid’s prescribed goal as a temporary, not permanent, safety net.

The Trump administration has appealed the Obama-appointed judge’s decision.

The Arkansas Medicaid work requirement program would require able-bodied adults without dependents between the ages of 19 and 49 to work, volunteer, or obtain vocational training for 20 hours a week to continue receiving Medicaid.

Nic Horton, the research director of FGA and the study’s primary author, told Breitbart News on Tuesday that the study shows how work requirements reduce dependence on welfare despite media “fake news” and “hysteria” surrounding the national conversation on work requirements.

Horton also noted that when able-bodied adults leave welfare and go back to work “their incomes more than double on average and they are better off than where they were, even when you subtract out their lost welfare benefit.”

The biggest impacts of the Medicaid work requirement include:

Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirement decreased dependence on Medicaid

When Arkansas first implemented the work requirement, more than 287,00 adults were enrolled in the Medicaid expansion program; by December, enrollment dropped to 247,000, which amounts to nearly a 14 percent decline. Further, when the work requirements went into effect, only 17 percent of Arkansas Medicaid case closures were the result of non-compliance with the work requirements and more than 14,000 adults left the program due to the increases in their incomes.

Much of this decline came before Arkansas could sanction Arkansas for non-compliance with the program, suggesting that many local citizens chose to leave the program to increase their income by finding gainful employment.

The study also found that only 1,900 of the more than 18,000 able-bodied adults who were removed in 2018 came back onto the program when the clock reset in January 2019, reducing the total Arkansans’ dependency on Medicaid.

The FGA study found that since the federal judge struck down Arkansas’ work requirement, between March and April 2019, Medicaid enrollment grew by 4,000 adults—reaching its highest level in five months.

Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirement helps maintain the program for those who truly need assistance, as the Arkansas Medicaid expansion enrolled 54 percent more adults than promised, nearly half of whom did not work at all. At its zenith, 40 percent of Arkansans were enrolled in Medicaid.

Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirement created long-term stability

Arkansas’ enrollment decline saved taxpayers significant savings, making the program more sustainable for future generations. By the end of 2018, Arkansas was on track to save taxpayers at least $300 million per year.

The savings that accrue through a state work requirement would serve as a welcome surprise for local lawmakers. For instance, in Arkansas, total Medicaid spending amounts to more than double the state’s entire education budget.

Arkansas’ work requirement helped Arkansans find gainful employment.

According to state data, 9,200 Medicaid expansion adults found employment since the work requirement was implemented. The data likely understates the number of Arkansans who found employment under the work requirement, given that the data does not account for individuals who went back to work as independent contractors, those who found cash jobs, or those who work across state lines in border cities such as Memphis, Tennessee, or Texarkana, Texas.

Anecdotal stories of Arkansans who found jobs through the state work requirement

Many Arkansans found that they were able to receive gainful employment quickly thanks to the help of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services.

Chris Burgess, from Conway, Arkansas, went to his local workforce center unemployed and looking for help to set up his online account to report his work activities. The same day, Chris left with a job and reported to orientation just a few days letter.

After Chris left the workforce center, he wrote a letter to the office, saying, “The staff was incredibly helpful and basically refused to let me fail. Long story short I’m leaving today gainfully employed. I couldn’t be more appreciative.”

Jeff from Rogers, Arkansas, was employed for more than nine months when he realized that he was subject to the state work requirement. Jeff traveled to his local workforce center to look for a job and was immediately matched with employers in the area; now, Jeff makes more than $18 an hour, roughly twice the Arkansas minimum wage in an industry he enjoys.

“I now work with a great company—in a job that I actually would not have gotten without the help from the Department of Workforce Services. They have given me an opportunity to provide a better life for my family and I can’t and won’t be able to thank them enough,” Jeff said.

During President Trump’s inaugural address, he promised to transform America’s welfare programs and reduce American dependency on welfare during his inaugural address. Trump said in January 2017, “We will get our people off of welfare and back to work – rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.”

Horton said that Medicaid work requirement serves as one of Trump’s “signature achievements” during his first term in office as the administration continues to think about the future of welfare and entitlement reform.

Americans have strongly approved of Medicaid work requirements. A 2018 Rassmussen poll found that 64 percent of Americans approve of work requirements for Medicaid.

Horton said, “I applaud the president and the changes he’s been making, specifically Medicaid work requirements, we didn’t have Medicaid work requirements before President Trump.”

“That really is a signature achievement of his first term,” Horton added.

“And now because of his leadership and administration, they now have a pathway out of dependency and into work and employment and independence. You can’t beat poverty without work,” Horton said.

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.

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