Debt ceiling fight: Republican Medicaid plan shows how to make work requirements work right

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The House GOP’s Limit, Save, Grow Act to raise the debt ceiling contains within it a vitally important reform — work requirements for able-bodied adults to qualify for Medicaid.  

While the Congressional Budget Office estimates the Medicaid work requirements in the bill will save $109 billion over the next 10 years, the money savings are not why the reform is so important. In fact, work requirements for welfare programs are vital for the health and wellbeing of those receiving benefits.  

The House GOP Medicaid work requirements build on the highly successful reforms to unemployment insurance and other welfare programs Republicans enacted in 1996. 


These reforms passed in a bipartisan fashion (Republicans split the Democrats in the House, and it was signed into law by a Democratic president) because we made the case that fixing these programs were a moral imperative more than a fiscal one.  

Incorporating work requirements in Medicaid would also improve the health of enrollees and lead to higher incomes because of fewer sick days. (

Prior to the 1996 reforms, our nation’s welfare system had become a poverty trap. That’s because its

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