Rosenbaum Speaks Out on Medicaid Work Requirements

Professor Sara Rosenbaum

The Trump administration’s invitation for states to attach work requirements to Medicaid has been the topic of a flurry of media stories in recent weeks.  George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health Professor Sara Rosenbaum, a widely respected authority on Medicaid, wrote an influential blog in Health Affairs and has been quoted in some of the most important pieces broadcast on television and radio and published in print. 

“The notion that you would take away somebody’s health insurance for not meeting work requirements would be brand new to the program,” said Rosenbaum, the Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy, in news televised by Scripps Broadcasting.  “The people who are affected will by and large be people who can’t find work or don’t fall into the exemptions,” including pregnant women and the medically frail, she points out.  “This initiative essentially tries to make people think that most poor working age adults don’t work, and that couldn’t be less true,” she is quoted as saying. 

National Public Radio’s All Things Considered aired a radio spot featuring Rosenbaum’s observations about why the new demonstrations proposed based on the administration’s interpretation of Section 1115 of the Medicaid law may render getting and staying on Medicaid more difficult.  The Economist quoted Sara Rosenbaum in the article, “The safety net in Republican states is about to get skimpier.’’ 

In NBC News’ piece, “Critics say Trump’s plan to put Medicaid recipients to work is a bad idea. Here’s why’’, Rosenbaum said the new guidelines were "very vague" and contained few "bright lines" that would discourage states from far-reaching proposals.

A story in the Huffington Post includes comments by Rosenbaum explaining why the policy is likely to be catastrophic for some of the most vulnerable Americans, particularly those struggling with opioid addiction. 

Two articles in Vox.com quote Rosenbaum.  In “The Trump administration’s plan for Medicaid work requirements, explained,” she points out why African Americans may be disproportionately required to work in some of the new state demonstrations.  In “Trump wants to make Medicaid recipients work to get benefits. That’s a very bad idea” she explains why the waivers submitted in response to the administration’s invitation may be illegal.

In her Health Affairs blog on the topic, “Unpacking the Trump Administration’s Section 1115 Medicaid Work Demonstration Solicitation”, Rosenbaum presents arguments contending that the premise underlying the solicitation, that working-age adults need a prod toward gainful employment, is erroneous.  She also shares her thoughts about how civil rights laws and due process protections may come into play.  She also explains why she believes that withdrawing health care from people who don’t satisfy the new proposals’ requirements creates a public health threat, especially in the poorest communities with widespread reliance on Medicaid.