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Poll: Voters See GOP "War on Health Care," Including Medicaid Work Rules

Almost all non-working West Virginians getting Medicaid face serious barriers to work. (WV COPB)
Almost all non-working West Virginians getting Medicaid face serious barriers to work. (WV COPB)
January 15, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia is considering a rule that would require Medicaid recipients to work, if they can. But a new national poll suggests voters might see the move as a piece of a very unpopular pattern.

Now that Trump administration officials have said they might allow it, some state lawmakers are pushing hard for the work requirements. But a new national poll found that three-quarters of voters agree Republicans are waging a "war on health care.”

Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research, said voters report seeing a pattern - starting with attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but including moves to cut Medicare and Medicaid.

"The Republicans have made it very believable that there is such a thing as a Republican war on health care today,” Garin said. "And every day they continue their assaults on health care and do new things, this will be given more credence."

House Speaker Paul Ryan has called steps like this necessary to reduce the deficit. But his critics observe the change is coming just after a $1.5 trillion tax cut that strongly benefits the wealthy and big corporations.

Garin said nationally, voters have a strong sense that GOP health care policies are deeply unfair.

"Targeting both Medicare and Medicaid for cuts in order to offset the cost of their tax cuts for the wealthy and large corporations, Republicans have put a very big target on their backs,” he said.

According to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, two-thirds of state Medicaid households have members that work, and almost all the rest are retired, in school, disabled or caring for family. The Center projects that putting the work hurdle before Medicaid would limit access to benefits for about 24,000, most of whom should qualify.

The Center for American Progress has estimated work requirements would block benefits for more than 6 million nationally.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV