(Washington, D.C.) On February 12, the Biden administration notified states of its intent to revoke waivers allowing states to condition Medicaid coverage on fulfillment of work requirements. The decision to do so returns the federal government to its long-standing policy rejecting state attempts to implement arbitrary barriers to Medicaid coverage.
The following is a statement from Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center:
“This step by the Biden administration is a critical measure towards advancing health care access for the very people most in need of coverage. Work requirements stand in direct contradiction with the goal of the Medicaid program while promoting sexist and racist stereotypes that target the Black and brown women currently bearing the brunt of a historic pandemic. As the last year has shown, our society is only as strong as its most underserved members, and placing burdens on people’s rightful access to health care coverage serves no public interest while causing considerable public harm.”
Nearly 17 million women ages 18-64 had health insurance through Medicaid, including 9 million women of color and 7.3 million working women. Women make up the majority of Medicaid recipients, and women of color make up the majority of women Medicaid recipients.
Women rely more on Medicaid because they represent a larger share of the low-wage workforce than men; In 2018, women made up almost two-thirds of workers in the lowest-paying 40 jobs.
A combination of disproportionate rates of poverty, disability, and caregiving responsibilities means work requirements would represent a particular burden for women and women of color especially. This is especially true since the start of the pandemic; 75,000 women left the labor force in January of 2021, bringing the total since March of 2020 to 2.3 million and the lowest participation rate for women in the last 43 years. Two in five unemployed women have been out of work for six months or longer.