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The Cruelty is the Point


Republican efforts to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients are another example of what Republican values on healthcare actually are:

This community — scarce on jobs and among the poorest in a poor state — provides an early reality check on how hard it is to carry out President Trump’s vision of a social safety net that requires most able-bodied people to work, or try to work, in exchange for government health benefits. Nearly 10 months ago, Arkansas became the first place in the nation to impose work requirements on the part of Medicaid that expanded under the Affordable Care Act. Seven other states have won the Trump administration’s blessing to begin the same idea soon, and seven more are waiting in line.

The president and Republican governors contend that this abrupt turn in Medicaid, one of the most enduring legacies of the Great Society of the 1960s, will propel poor people to economic self-reliance. In Arkansas, however, 18,000 people so far have lost their insurance, including 85 here in Lee County, state figures show.

The view from this Delta town is that confusion about the program is rampant, and people scoff at the idea that jobs are waiting for those willing to work.

“I am a big fan of work and people working,” said Rep. Reginald Murdock (D), a veteran state legislator from Marianna. But with jobs so scarce here, even at a time of low unemployment statewide, “threatening people with their insurance wasn’t a proper way to do it.”

If it’s humiliating poor people and putting them in Catch-22s, it’s working!

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