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President Trump Signs Order To Strengthen Welfare Work Requirements

13 April 2018
President Trump Signs Order To Strengthen Welfare Work Requirements

The move could eventually affect recipients of Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance and cash welfare. That's why Medicaid work requirements are facing a tough legal challenge.

As it now stands, to get continued benefits under SNAP, able-bodied adults without children must work at least 20 hours per week.

Concurrent congressional action, likely in the form of changes to SNAP's work requirements, is expected in the near future.

Several states, particularly those with Republican leaders, have also been adding work mandates. About half of these participants are already part of working families.

The president is ramping up these efforts after Congress opted to punt on entitlement reform with the midterm elections looming in the fall. The order instructs eight cabinet secretaries to review their public assistance "regulations and guidance documents" based on nine "Principles of Economic Mobility".

As the Times notes, numerous order's "initiatives... have already been set into motion by the affected agencies".

Millions of Americans flocked to the nation's government assistance programs in the wake of the Great Recession and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. In 2016, over 16 million adult males were enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), once called the Food Stamp program.

Able-bodied adults' enrollment in welfare programs is at record highs, according to the administration.

"In a state where our unemployment rate statewide is so low, those people who don't have jobs now, they have real barriers to employment", Lane said. "People who are on public assistance and don't work are not choosing between a six-figure salary or staying at home. And to do hard things, it takes a lot of grit and gumption a little grace from God", she said. Many say those drawing on public benefits already work, but their jobs simply do not pay enough.

In a 2017 study, the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy found about three-quarters of people enrolled in Michigan's Medicaid program were working or were physically unable to work, and 12 percent of enrollees may be exempt from work requirements due to being students or above a certain age. Most of those who don't work cite illness, disability or family obligations as the reason.

Rebecca Vallas, vice president of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress, said Trump's executive order served to reinforce myths about poverty in the U.S. We wouldn't have gotten to this point without the bravery of the sex trafficking victims and their families who shared their stories, the work of anti-trafficking advocates who helped us craft a narrowly-tailored solution, and a broad coalition of support that was unwavering its commitment to getting this done.