Tell the PA Legislature: Stop Your Attacks on Vulnerable Pennsylvanians!

PA legislators are playing up stereotypes about poor Pennsylvanians in order to cut off their access to food assistance and health care.  They are moving two bills (HB 1659 and HB 2138) that will impose strict work requirements on Medicaid and SNAP recipients, and a failure to meet those requirements will result in lose of access to food assistance and medical care.

HB 1659 will subject 90,000 more adults without children to a strict three-month time limit for food assistance, and add a new work requirements for parents who are trying to feed their children, putting food assistance for households with children at risk.  

HB 2138 will create new work requirements for all non-elderly, non-disabled, non-pregnant working age adults who receive Medicaid, and impose lockout periods for an inability to comply. Both of these bills mean that people struggling to work will lose access to vital services.

First, support for a work or job search requirement is based on a misconception that there are a large number of able-bodied adults who receive Medicaid, could work, and are not doing so. That’s simply not true. The majority of people receiving SNAP and medicaid are children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Among working age adults in both programs, the majority are working.

Second, Work requirements can hurt people who are working, who still can get tripped up by work requirements. They may work fluctuating schedules where they may or may not meet a fixed weekly requirement. People can lose their benefits simply because the paperwork verifying their hours or job training participation wasn't processed on time.

Third, work requirements are counter-productive: if someone loses their job because their health deteriorates, they also lose access to treatment. When their hours get cut and money for food is tight, they risk losing their food assistance. Having medical coverage and food on the table helps to stabilize families’ situations, overcome crises, and make it easier to seek and keep a job.

Lastly, work requirements are expensive. Monitoring work hours and job training attendance for tens of thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians, is an unnecessary administrative burden that taxpayers should not have to shoulder.