Concerns grow over Medicaid work requirement proposal

Concerns grow over Medicaid work requirement proposal

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX)

Coast organizations speak out against Medicaid work requirement calling it a ‘lose-lose situation’.

Concerns are growing over a proposal to extend work requirement to those on Medicaid in Mississippi.

Non-profit organizations along the Coast are diving into a new study that shows the work requirement hurts families and leave them without health care.

At just 8 years old, Zabulon has already had more than 18 surgeries in his battle against brain cancer. During one of those surgeries, complications cost him his eyesight. Now he depends on his sound and touch, and his mother Tonya Grace depends on Medicaid for his health needs.

"Without Medicaid supporting a mother like me on a fixed income, it would have been impossible for my son to have those surgeries,” she said.

The mother of three resigned from her job to focus on taking care of her son.

"Being on a job that you love and then you have a boss that tells you that you need to be here, but how can you be there, but you have a sick son," Grace asked.

That's why she's concerned about the proposed Mississippi Workforce Training Initiative.

Under the proposal, parents would be required to work 20 hours a week or lose Medicaid coverage.

Samantha Wells with MS Health Advocacy Program said, "The intentions of this initiative are to create better employment across the state, however, it's essentially going to decrease that insured rate in Mississippi."

Leaders with the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program met with Coast community organizations Tuesday to look over a new study that calls the initiative a lose-lose situation. The initiative hits African American mothers the hardest. 

Some say if parents meet the work requirements, they'd make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to survive.

Grace said, "I'm afraid if this bill's been approved and mothers like me, we would have to choose our children's lives for Medicaid, and I don't think that would be fair."

It's a choice Grace hopes she doesn't have to make.

The work requirements are still awaiting approval from the federal government. If passed, the changes could go into effect within a year.

Copyright 2018 WLOX. All rights reserved.