A New Wave of Welfare Reform

Governors across the country are proposing game-changing welfare reforms and Pennsylvania should follow their example.

Yesterday, Maine submitted a waiver to the federal government asking for permission to apply Medicaid work requirements to parents. Similarly, governors in states such as Arizona and Wisconsin have proposed work requirements for the able-bodied enrolled in Medicaid. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's proposal seeks work requirements for the able-bodied or a 4-year limit on benefits.

Closer to home, Rep. Seth Grove is preparing legislation that will instruct the Department of Human Services to apply for a Medicaid work requirement waiver and limit Medicaid eligibility to 5 years.

Why is establishing work requirements helpful for Medicaid recipients? Research shows that people without jobs can't escape poverty nor increase their incomes to afford health insurance.


At the end of the day, reform is about helping Pennsylvanians flourish.


When Kansas strengthened work requirements for SNAP (food stamps), they found former recipients significantly increased their incomes and enrollment for the abled-bodied dropped by more than 75 percent. Wealthier Kansans and smaller enrollment not only benefits recipients, it benefits taxpayers. Kansas saved $1.7 million in administrative costs and brought in about $1.3 million in additional tax revenue per year. Reducing administrative costs by the same percentage could save $20 million in Pennsylvania.

With Medicaid enrollment at an all-time high and a welfare budget growing twice as fast as taxpayers' incomes, the time is ripe to apply these reforms and help Pennsylvanians escape poverty. Though certainly helping to break the cycle of budget deficits, at the end of the day, reform is about helping Pennsylvanians flourish.