Wolf’s Veto Blocks Pathway out of Poverty for Thousands in Pa.

Despite evidence that work requirements improve lives and boost incomes for those on government programs, Gov. Wolf has vetoed the Human Services Code, which instructs him to request a federal waiver to implement Medicaid work requirements for able-bodied, non-elderly adults without dependent children.

According to a study released today by the Commonwealth Foundation, work requirements spurred half of those leaving the SNAP (food stamps) programs in Kansas and Maine to more than double their incomes.

If Medicaid work requirements were implemented in Pennsylvania, almost 500,000 able-bodied adults—equivalent to the populations of Harrisburg, Lancaster, Allentown, Erie, Scranton, and Reading combined—would stand to directly benefit.

“It’s a tragedy that the governor is keeping hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians stuck in a cycle of poverty rather than enacting a proven reform,” commented Elizabeth Stelle, director of policy analysis for the Commonwealth Foundation. “Medicaid work requirements would empower thousands to achieve independence. Wolf should recognize that the goal of government assistance programs is to promote self-sufficiency, not dependence.”

In Kansas and Maine, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) leaving the SNAP program due to work requirements saw their incomes increase 127 percent and 114 percent respectively within a year of leaving the program.

“Expanding work requirements for food stamp recipients in Kansas and Maine has been a demonstrable success,” continued Stelle. “Applying the same reform to Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program would improve individuals’ lives and ensure the program has the resources to serve those most in need. Unfortunately, Gov. Wolf’s veto is a roadblock on the path out of poverty. Contrary to the governor’s veto statement, there is no evidence a work requirement waiver would expand costs or penalize individuals. On the contrary, our research finds work requirements raise incomes and improve overall quality of life.”

Click here for the Commonwealth Foundation’s in-depth study, Restoring the Dignity of Work: Creating Pathways to Prosperity in Pennsylvania’s Welfare System.

Elizabeth Stelle and other Commonwealth Foundation experts are available for comment. Please contact Jonathan Reginella at 717-943-1796 or [email protected] to schedule an interview.

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