(Jacobin) -- Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that it would begin allowing states to require most Medicaid enrollees to work. This is bad policy meant to castigate and discipline the poor. It’s also very likely illegal.
Work requirements for Medicaid are part of the conservative effort to limit social assistance to the “deserving” poor only. Since 1965, Medicaid has provided health insurance to the needy through a partnership between the states and the federal government. The program historically offered coverage to an ad hoc list of groups deemed sympathetic, like pregnant women, children, and people with disabilities. But in 2010, the Affordable Care Act broadened Medicaid eligibility to instead cover anyone earning less than 133 percent of the poverty line — an expansion later made optional for the states by the Supreme Court.
While most states took the federal government up on the offer, conservatives recoiled from decoupling Medicaid eligibility from traditional notions of who deserves government help. Eighteen conservative-led states have refused federal funding to extend insurance to more of their residents. And much of the ensuing obsession with repealing the ACA altogether was about limiting health care access to those who are seen as really deserving it.
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