Medicaid work requirement debate gets compromise
MONROE - Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a pilot program Monday at Louisiana Delta Community College that offers free training in high demand fields for able-bodied Medicaid recipients without dependents. The Democrat governor is no longer pushing for work requirements after years of Republican criticism about the program he expanded.
More than 500,000 people have enrolled under Louisiana's Medicaid expansion since 2016. Jan Moller with the Louisiana Budget Project estimates ten percent are in the able-bodied category.
"This was debated in the legislature [last year] and they said they did not want anyone to lose coverage because they could not find a job," he said. "Some regions in the state, particularly in north Louisiana, have unemployment rates well above the state average. So I think this program is trying to match the skills and training with the demand that's out there," he added.
The pilot program is focused on able-bodied adults but any Medicaid, food stamp or welfare recipient will eventually be able to enroll in the free career training at community colleges, said Rep. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe). Jackson, who sponsored the bill creating the program, said she hopes it will go statewide and come to Capital Region in two to three years.
Other states like Kentucky and Arkansas have tried implementing work requirements for Medicaid recipients but have meet resistance in federal court.