Work requirements don’t work

Work requirements don’t work

A letter writer to The Advocate recently recycled the tired trope that taking away food and medical assistance from poor people will somehow make them more likely to find employment. Danny Mintz , anti-hunger policy advocate for LBP, sets the record straight, and explains how work reporting requirements don’t work and often end up harming those most in need: 

Work reporting requirements are out of touch with the reality of low-wage work. For example, most people on SNAP are employed, but their jobs often come with unstable hours in addition to low pay. (…) A recent study of Medicaid work reporting requirements in Arkansas, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that 97% of people subject to the requirements either worked the required number of hours or qualified for an exemption. Still, 18,000 of the 100,000 people targeted by the rule lost their health coverage. For some people, this meant skipping the medications that allowed them to work, and losing their jobs as a result.


Raising the minimum wage is good for workers and the economy
The federal minimum wage has not been raised since 2007, making this the longest period in U.S. history without an increase. Every year, minimum wage workers lose ground as inflation erodes their purchasing power. Instead of taking action to put money in the pockets of those most likely to spend it, elected officials repeatedly refuse to give the lowest paid workers a raise. David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute provides analysis into the real value of minimum wage work and the impact an increase would have on the economy and workers: 

A $15 minimum wage is ambitious only because of how long lawmakers have let the federal minimum wage stagnate at unlivable levels. Had the federal minimum wage been raised since the 1960s at the pace of rising labor productivity, it would be over $20 an hour today. Raising the minimum wage to more livable levels is enormously important to the health of an economy that relies on consumer spending for two-thirds of its strength. It is also a modest but important step in narrowing shamefully large gaps in wages and income between rich and poor Americans.


Women are leaving the workforce to care for parents
Women’s participation in the workforce rose steadily for a half-century until stalling in the 1990s. While the scarcity of paid leave policies to care for young children and the high cost of childcare are often cited for keeping women out of the workforce, the near total absence of eldercare policies is another – and growing – reason more women are taking time off during prime earning years. The New York Times’ Eduardo Porter highlights the potential costs and benefits of bringing the nation’s paid family leave policies in line with modern realities and the practices of other developed nations:  

A 2015 study by the Labor Department estimated that if prime-aged American women worked as much in the formal work force as their counterparts in Canada or Germany — which have more generous policies to subsidize care for the young, the sick and the old — 5.5 million more women would have been in the labor force in 2014, increasing gross domestic product by 3.5 percent.


Medicaid contract disputes simmer
The state Medicaid office will continue to contract with five existing health insurers to ensure that health coverage for 1.5 million low-income Louisianans isn’t disrupted as a new round of contracts is negotiated. The announcement comes as the state’s efforts to drop two of the current insurers is on hold because of protests. The Advocate’s Sam Karlin reports: 

The move to block LDH from negotiating the new contracts came less than two months before open enrollment for the Medicaid program. It also came despite objections from state health officials who said such a delay would jeopardize coverage for the 1.5 million people who will need to pick health plans. Paula Tregre, Louisiana’s chief procurement officer, said she decided to keep the stay in place because LDH previously suggested there would be no disruption of services to current Medicaid enrollees if the protests stretched past Dec. 31, when the current contracts are set to expire.


Number of the Day:
$155 million – Amount President Donald Trump diverted from hurricane assistance to detain immigrants at the border. The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season runs through Nov. 30. (Source: The Advocate)