State and federal policymakers are considering — and in the case of Arkansas with Medicaid, implementing — proposals to take basic assistance like health coverage and food from people who can’t meet harsh work requirements. Our new video series illustrates the harm that these proposals would cause to many people who are working but in jobs with unsteady hours that make it hard to meet the requirements every month or to prove they do. The proposals would also harm many people with serious health challenges, some of whom may not qualify for exemptions and others who cannot overcome bureaucratic hurdles to prove that they do.
To understand the harm of these proposals, we traveled to Pittsburgh and talked to workers, including a cashier, a personal health aide, and grocery store workers. Their stories carry common themes: the realities of their work — including low wages, unreliable hours, and no paid sick leave or benefits like health insurance — make programs such as SNAP (food stamps) and Medicaid essential to keep them healthy, at work, and providing for their families.
Heather Hahn, an Urban Institute Senior Fellow who specializes in the challenges of low-wage workers, echoes these themes. She emphasizes that making ends meet is hard for workers who may be between jobs or have unstable hours and that such workers need the support of SNAP and Medicaid. Given this reality,policymakers should pursue policies that support families and workers, not take away the help they need.