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Should Medical Assistance come with a work requirement?

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There are bills in the Minnesota House and Senate that would require people receiving Medical Assistance to work or volunteer.

The bills specify that those who are "able-bodied" should be able to work or volunteer while receiving Medical Assistance, Minnesota's version of Medicaid. Over 1 million people in the state use Medical Assistance.

Reporter Brian Bakst spoke to host Kerri Miller about the viability of the bill.

He said the bill will pass the Republican controlled House and Senate. However, Gov. Dayton will most likely veto the Republican-authored bill, unless they attach it to another bill he'd like to see passed.

"They might leave him with that choice," he said.

Kerri then turned to Tara O'Neill Hayse, deputy director of Health Care Policy at the American Action Forum and Dr. Nathan Chomilo who is a local pediatrician and internist.

Chomilo said that there is no medical diagnosis for "able-bodied" and that people suffering from mental illness might be adversely affected. The bill also doesn't address "the social determinants of health," such as stable housing, transportation and education.

He felt that the legislation will not tackle the costs of Medical Assistance, "at all."

Hayse said that this requirement is made to weed out people who are inappropriately using Medical Assistance, but that is "not as common as other people think."

She's concerned that the regulatory burden will be placed on the people applying. She would like to see resources put towards helping people understand the requirement and apply for it appropriately.

Both the House and Senate bills are making their way through various committee hearings. 

 Listen to the entire discussion, including audience input, by using the audio player above.