ICYMI: Times-News: ‘Work requirements’ are not the Idaho way

By Luke Mayville


Last June, the state of Arkansas enacted “work requirements” for Medicaid recipients in an effort to incentivize people to work.

It was a failed experiment. Recent studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that between June and November 2018, nearly 17,000 people lost Medicaid coverage—and so the “Medicaid gap” continues to exist in Arkansas in spite of Medicaid expansion.

And here’s the thing: It is estimated that the majority who lost coverage were working; they merely failed to file the correct paperwork. They were victims of red tape.

Here in Idaho, where citizens recently voted by a landslide to enact Medicaid expansion, we have a chance to learn from Arkansas’ mistakes.

Newly elected Gov. Brad Little recently suggested that Idaho lawmakers should honor the will of the voters, but that Medicaid Expansion should be implemented “in an Idaho manner.” Many interpreted Little as suggesting that Idaho should follow Arkansas and enact “work requirements” for Medicaid recipients.

The truth is that so-called “work requirements” are not the “Idaho” way; they are the Arkansas way. They failed in Arkansas and they would surely fail in Idaho.

Most will agree with Gov. Little that people should be incentivized to become more productive, to make more money, and to move off of the Medicaid rolls. But the best way to achieve this goal is to implement Medicaid expansion as it was written and without modifications.