NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is considering work requirements for Medicaid benefits.
This comes after a Trump administration policy change allowing states to enforce those requirements.
Sarah Olivier is one of the 1.6 million people in Louisiana who had Medicaid benefits.
"I had my child at 16 so it really helped me with that, but now I'm married and a teacher so I'm no longer on Medicaid, but while on Medicaid I worked, I went to school, so it helped benefit me," Olivier said.
Olivier believes having work requirements could help folks.
"You're getting something from the community pretty much and so you need to be giving back," Olivier said.
Senator John Kennedy said this allows states to make sure people need assistance.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health, for the fiscal year of 2016 total expenditures for Medicaid was about $10.6 billion. The program helped about 30 percent of the state’s population. Having requirements in place would cut that out.
"It's going to save tax payers a lot of money. We're now spending about 43 percent of our budget on Medicaid," Kennedy said.
Kennedy said requirements in other states include working 20 hours a week, going back to school for job training or performing community service.
"If you can’t work we'll still help you, but if you can work sometimes the best way to get back on your feet is to get off your butt, and that is what this is about," Kennedy said.
Oliver says adding requirements could also help distinguish which recipients truly need Medicaid.
"We only have a certain amount a money allocated to those benefits so if the people who really don't need it are using it all up then it's taking away from somebody who really needs it. I'm hoping the new rules weeds that problem out," Olivier said.
Governor Edwards said he wants requirements to be reasonable and he has hired a consulting firm who developed a similar program in Kentucky which is waiting federal approval.
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