Alabama Seeks Comment on Plans to Add Medicaid Work Requirement

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Alabama wants to require some Medicaid recipients to work if they want healthcare coverage. The public has until Thursday to comment on the plan. The state’s proposal would require “able-bodied” adults to work, take classes, do job training or volunteer to receive Medicaid. Some, such as pregnant women and the disabled, would be exempt.

One analysis showed a Medicaid work requirement in Alabama would most affect mothers, African Americans, and families in rural communities. The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter last week to Alabama’s Medicaid Agency opposing the state’s plan. WBHM’s Andrew Yeager spoke with the group’s deputy legal director Sam Brooke.

Interview Highlights

Why the SPLC opposes a work requirement:

“Our belief [is] that really this isn’t so much a work requirement as a work paradox because people are going to be forced into an impossible situation. They’re going to either lose coverage because they’re not able to do the work for one reason or another. Or else they’re going to lose coverage under the Medicaid program because they’re going to start working the minimum 20 hours and their income’s going to take them over that $247 a month threshold. And so they’re going to lose Medicaid coverage because they earn too much, but still they will earn too little in order to purchase coverage themselves.”

Why the SPLC sees an extension of Transitional Medical Assistance, which is designed to help those leaving Medicaid rolls, as inadequate:

“We appreciate that change from six to 18 months, but it’s still woefully insufficient. To use an old analogy, it’s still a bridge to nowhere. It’s still a situation where once you get on this path, you’re going to be cut off. It’s just a matter of now it’s going to happen in 18 months instead of six months. Most likely … individuals in this circumstance are not in 18 months going to find themselves in a position where all of the sudden they’re earning enough that they’re going to be able to pay for this themselves or be in a stable enough situation that they’re going to be suddenly getting health insurance from their employer.”


WBHM reached out to Alabama’s Medicaid Agency. A spokeswoman says they can’t comment because the public comment period has not closed.

Public comments can be submitted through Thursday, August 30th via email at