Did Medicaid Work Requirements Boost Employment in Arkansas? This Study Says No.
By Phil Galewitz
The Medicaid work requirement plan devised by Arkansas and approved by the Trump administration caused thousands of poor adults to lose their health coverage without generating any evidence that employment increased among the target population, a new study finds.
In fact, the work requirement had only a limited chance for success because nearly 97% of Arkansas residents subject to the mandate — those between the ages of 30 and 49 who were eligible for Medicaid — were already employed or should have been exempt from the new law, according to the study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Yet the state’s work mandate — the first of its kind in the nation — resulted in 18,000 of the 100,000 targeted people falling off the Medicaid rolls. And although administration officials have said that many of those people may have found jobs, the Harvard researchers who conducted the study said there was no indication that they secured jobs or found other insurance coverage. In fact, the study authors noted a dip in the employment rate among those eligible for Medicaid.
The uninsured rate among 30- to 49-year-old Arkansans eligible for Medicaid increased from 10.5% in 2016 to 14.5% in 2018, while the employment rate fell from about 42% to just below 39%.