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The right to health care

To the Editor:

Here we go again, this time it’s a Medicaid work requirement. The Trump administration could not repeal the Affordable Care Act, so they are taking another approach to take away health coverage.

Seventy-four million people, one-fifth of the country, are covered by Medicaid. However, the vast majority of the adults [60 percent], who would be subject to the work requirement, are already employed. For the millions of people who are too sick to search for a job but haven’t gone through the lengthy process of qualifying for disability determination, meeting the work requirement would be difficult – and the loss of Medicaid devastating.

Trump’s approach would result in booting poor and sick Americans from Medicaid rolls without helping them find work.

Isn’t taking away struggling workers’ health insurance cruel and even counterproductive? Health insurance is associated not only with better health but also with increased work capacity, which translates into higher wages and earnings.

Work requirements are based on myths: “The ‘poor’ don’t want to work. One can get a well-paying job by snapping one’s fingers. Presto! Job appears. Having a job is all it takes not to be poor.”

Close to home, the Missouri GOP Senate, too, is attempting to create a waiver for Medicaid that calls for a work requirement, which also slashes funds for the program by switching to block grants. Access to health care should never be based on employment status. All Missourians no matter where they live, how much money they make or how able they are to work deserve access to health care.

The addition of a work requirement moves us further away from the idea of health care as a right and toward an America that does not provide a safety net for the most vulnerable, including people with disabilities.

Ed Shew

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