Medicaid work requirement bill an effort to make people self-reliant, says senator

in News/Health care

By Cowboy State Daily

A failed bill that would have required people receiving Medicaid to work, attend school or take part in volunteer activities would have been a way to get people off of a cycle of dependence, according to a state senator.

Sen. Scott Clem, R-Gillette, said SF 144 would have encouraged a small number of people receiving benefits to rely more on themselves.

“The whole idea behind this is to not be so dependent upon the government, have a little bit of self-reliance,” Clem said. “And that’s good for people.”

The bill was killed on a vote of 39-20 in the House on Wednesday. It would have contained exemptions for people with serious medical conditions or disabilities, pregnant women and people in substance abuse programs.

Opponents of the bill argued throughout the session that the majority of people receiving benefits already face difficult times because of the illness or disability that forced them to rely on assistance to begin with.

“If you really want to help people, taking away their health care or threatening to take away their health care is not the way to do it,” said Chris Merrill of the Equality State Policy Center.

The bill was one of three killed in the first items of House business Wednesday as representatives tried to get through their last eight bills on third and final reading.

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