U.S. Sen. John Kennedy says he wants to implement a government program that would help Medicaid recipients get a job.
Kennedy said in a KATC interview on Friday that the program would help people fill out job applications and scout positions, and he said he would like to see the program paired with work requirements for working-age Medicaid recipients.
"If you want to keep receiving free medical care and you're able-bodied and you don't have kids and you're between 18 and 55, you're gonna have to go get a job. Now, we'll get you a job, but you're gonna have to go to work. Otherwise, you're not gonna get the free medical care," Kennedy said.
President Donald Trump on Thursday issued policy guidance that allows states to establish the first-ever work requirements for Medicaid recipients. Kentucky became the first state to implement the provisions.
Kennedy, who's introduced a bill in Congress to establish Medicaid work requirements in all the states, said Medicaid recipients who aren't working should not have access to free preventative care.
"If you're able to care for yourself, but you choose not to, I think that's wrong," Kennedy said.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a press release Thursday that his administration has been working to develop "work, volunteer and educational engagement components" for the state's Medicaid program, Healthy Louisiana.
"For those who are not currently working but are able and eligible to work, we must find reasonable ways to ensure they too benefit from the dignity of being employed," said Edwards, who implemented the Medicaid expansion that expanded coverage to working-age adults.
The Louisiana Budget Project, which advocates for low- to moderate-income Louisianans, said Medicaid work requirements are ineffective.
"While the idea of a work requirement may sound good to some, the reality is that it would take away health coverage, create more red tape and make it harder for many people who want to work to find employment," LBP Senior Policy Analyst Jeanie Donovan wrote in a blog post.
LBP argues that it could threaten coverage for some people with disabilities not severe enough to receive other benefits but that still hinder their work abilities. The group also says Medicaid keeps people healthy and thus fosters work, and those who lose access to preventative services for not meeting work requirements would still need care when sick.
That would ultimately drive higher costs to consumers, LBP says.