Alabama’s proposed new Medicaid work requirement waiver would be costly, counterproductive, ineffective and harmful to thousands of families who live in deep poverty, Arise wrote in comments submitted to the Alabama Medicaid Agency on Thursday, March 22.
About 1 million Alabamians – mostly children, seniors, people with disabilities, and pregnant women – have Medicaid coverage. Out of that population, the state’s waiver would target about 75,000 adults with extremely low incomes who qualify for Medicaid as parents or other caretaker relatives of children (POCR). Alabamians in this group are ineligible for Medicaid if their incomes exceed 18 percent of the federal poverty level (about $312 a month for a family of three).
Because Alabama has not expanded Medicaid, the state’s work requirement plan would create a “catch-22 that forces people into the coverage gap,” Arise wrote in its official comments. Parents who work just 10 hours a week at minimum wage earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. But the state’s proposal would require them to work between 20 to 35 hours a week. That would put those parents in a no-win situation: They would lose Medicaid coverage if they don’t work – and also if they do.
“Threatening loss of health care in an attempt to force work efforts, without providing the supports that would make those work attempts successful, is flagrantly cruel and will result in no outcome other than poorer, more desperate and less healthy Alabama families,” Arise’s comments concluded.