Work-reporting should not be health care requirement
To the editor:
Most American citizens, in the past decade or so, have come to believe that access to health care is a right, not a privilege only for those who can afford it. One way of putting that belief into practice has been expansion of the Medicaid program, which went into effect in Virginia in January.
Enrollment in the program by those newly eligible had reached 300,000 by August; about two-thirds of these enrollees had gone without medical care in the year before enrollment. There is a fly in this ointment, however.
According to a recent report from the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, Virginia’s proposed COMPASS program, which includes work-reporting requirements, would threaten the health care coverage of up to 74,000 Medicaid recipients, and the bureaucracy to implement such a program could cost up to $80 million per year.
The purpose of the Medicaid program is to provide low-income individuals and families access to health care, as is their right as human beings. A work-reporting requirement in no way supports that objective and should be eliminated through budget or legislative action.
The experiences of other states that have attempted to impose work-reporting requirements have been uniformly dismal, resulting in no increase in employment or in number of hours worked. The work-reporting requirement in Arkansas resulted in so many working individuals losing health care coverage that it made national news.
Virginia can, and should, do better, by eliminating the work-reporting requirement for Medicaid recipients.
M. MARTHA WOODY