Columnists, Featured, Gold Dome, Health Care, Jon Caldara, Obamacare, Politics

Caldara: Colorado needs a work requirement for Medicaid

Do you remember your first job?

No matter how much you hated it back then, chances are you remember it with a certain fondness today.

Think back. What did you learn from your first job or two? Discipline? Endurance? The ability to work with people you didn’t like? How much you wanted to get an education and improve the chances you wouldn’t get stuck in a job like that?

There might be something else you remember. Pride.

As a young person, earning even a little of your own money gave you a sense of freedom, independence, separation from your parents. Do you remember how great that felt?

That job gave tangible evidence that maybe, just maybe, you could provide for yourself sometime. And do you remember when it hit you — if I can provide for myself, even with a crappy job, someday I won’t have to live under their roof and by their stupid rules.

Your unreasonable parents had expectations of you, those bastards. Maybe you even got the “If you’re living under my roof you’re going to live by my rules” lecture, the great incentive to get on your own feet.

That wasn’t so different from what social welfare was before government took it over. Back when the social safety net was provided more by churches, fraternal organizations and philanthropic charities, there were expectations. A charity would help someone in need, but that person was pressured to get on his own feet at some point when he had the ability.

Today places like Step Denver, which takes no government support, still work that way. A homeless person gets treatment, meals and a roof, in exchange he works a real job they help him get. Before you know it that pride thing kicks in. That’s why their success rate is so impressive.

All work is honorable and should be celebrated. I thought this was an American shared value, almost baked into our collective DNA. So, I scratch my head, not only at what seems likes a diminishing work ethic, but the Left’s discouragement of work.

Whether it was really in the “New Green Deal” before being quickly scrubbed out or just a Freudian slip on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s website, she said what a growing number of socialists are scheming — “economic security to all those who are unable or unwilling to work.”

Unwilling to work? Unwilling? Wouldn’t all of us be unwilling to work if we could? Isn’t that why we try to save for retirement, so we can willingly NOT work?

Medicaid was designed to help those who are unable to work to cover their healthcare expenses. I’ve personally grown experienced with Medicaid having a son with Down Syndrome who will depend upon it for his entire life. I am grateful it exists for those like him.

But Medicaid is no longer just for people like my son. Thanks to Obamacare, now one in four Coloradans are on Medicaid, and socialists in the state legislature and the governor want to expand it to “All.”

Economic security to those unwilling to work, indeed.

It’s too easy to talk about the broken social contract that comes with forcibly taxing working people to support people able to work but choose not to. That’s not charity, it’s theft.

Instead, it’s time to talk about what a work requirement for Medicaid means for able people who are missing the pride of work and stuck in dependency. We need to ask if we are helping them by enabling their unwillingness to even look for a job?

Four states already have work requirements for able people to get Medicaid. Another eight states are waiting for Washington to approve waivers so they can do the same. Sadly, Colorado isn’t one of them.

Children, pregnant women, mentally or physically disabled and elderly folks are exempt from the requirement, of course. And the requirement isn’t to have a job. It is usually only to be actively looking for a job or get job training or volunteer.

Many states did this with Food Stamps with unsurprising results. Food Stamp rolls dropped, allowing that money to go to better use, and people got on a path to real independence and dignity.

Socialists not only are going to have to explain how — with record low unemployment in Colorado — a willingly unemployed, able man should receive “free” healthcare, but how that’s good for HIM.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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