New England Journal of Medicine Study Shows Medicaid Work Requirements Do Not Result in Increased Employment Rates

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On June 19, researchers from Harvard published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, which revealed how the Medicaid work requirements imposed in Arkansas have not been successful in lifting Medicaid beneficiaries out of poverty. Specifically, the study found that uninsured Arkansans in the 30 to 49 age group increased from 10.5 percent in 2016 to 14.5 percent after the work requirements took effect, while a similar trend did not occur in other states that did not have work requirements. Additionally, employment among this group fell from 42.4 percent to 38.9 percent during the same period. The study authors emphasized that the work requirements were associated with significant losses in health insurance coverage but no significant change in employment. Lifting Medicaid beneficiaries out of poverty was the original justification for the demonstration project that initiated the work requirements. This study lends credibility to the recent District Court ruling that invalidated the work requirements for failing to further the core objective of Medicaid, which is to provide medical coverage for the needy. The study also contradicts HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson’s assertions that many of the people who lost coverage did so voluntarily because they gained employment.

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