The Biden administration is fear-mongering about what the "extreme MAGA Republican House Freedom Caucus" has in store for the country.
Last week, the White House put out a statement declaring the Freedom Caucus's proposal to impose work requirements in Medicaid a "Five-Alarm Fire!"
But the real emergency is Medicaid's finances.
Spending on the healthcare entitlement grew 9.2% in 2021, to $734 billion. The previous year, the bill jumped 9.3% to $672 billion.
A significant share of those taxpayer dollars pays for coverage for able-bodied, working-age Americans.
Work requirements for people who should be able to provide for themselves are a commonsense way to get Medicaid's crippling costs under control.
Medicaid was originally conceived as a coverage provider of last resort for the disabled, pregnant women, and children. But today, it is the single largest source of health insurance in the country, covering more than one in five people.
This astounding growth has come at significant financial cost.
More than one in six healthcare dollars in this country is spent by Medicaid. According to federal projections, spending in the program is expected to exceed $1 trillion as soon as 2028.
By one estimate, Medicaid already consumes nearly one-third of state budgets.
And as Medicaid's costs tick upward in the coming years, the program will continue to crowd out other important government priorities like education, public safety, and infrastructure.
In other words, taxpayers can't afford Medicaid in its current state.
Implementing work requirements is among the most humane ways to rein in the program's costs while continuing to cover those in genuine need.
Between 2000 and 2021, the number of able-bodied adults enrolled in the program has increased by 27 million, according to the Foundation for Government Accountability.
A great deal of that increase is the direct result of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, which has made all Americans earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level eligible for the program in the more than three dozen participating states.
Between 2013 — the year before that expansion took effect in most states — and 2018, the number of able-bodied adults who rely on the program almost doubled.
Enrollment among all other groups — including disabled patients, the blind, and children — grew by just 2% over that same period, according to the Foundation for Government Accountability.
As long as able-bodied, working-age Americans are entitled to taxpayer-funded health coverage free of charge, many of them will have little incentive to enter the workforce and provide for themselves.
Work requirements give them that incentive — and increase the likelihood that they'll be able to become self-sufficient.
Just last week, Rep. Jake LaTurner, R-Kan., introduced legislation that would require able-bodied adults to work or volunteer for 20 hours a week in return for Medicaid benefits.
A month before, Arkansas's Republican Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders requested federal permission to impose a Medicaid work requirement in her state.
Expanding Medicaid was a coup for Democrats because it nudged the country closer to their ultimate goal of subjecting everyone to public insurance coverage — single payer or Medicare for All — and imposing confiscatory taxes to pay for it. Work requirements threaten that vision.
The U.S. national debt is now at levels not seen since World War II. The federal government owes more than the entire U.S. economy produces in a year.
And the feds are collecting more in taxes as a share of the economy than they have in decades.
Our country cannot sustain the levels of spending that have characterized the last decade-plus. Rolling back Medicaid is part of the answer.
Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and the Thomas W. Smith fellow in healthcare policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is "False Premise, False Promise: The Disastrous Reality of Medicare for All," (Encounter Books 2020). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes. Read Sally Pipes' Reports — More Here.
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