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Survey: Docs Favor Permitting Medicaid Work Mandates

By John Commins  
   April 02, 2018

A strong majority of physicians responding to a one-question survey support work requirements for beneficiaries, despite opposition to the idea from the American Medical Association and other physician associations.

Three-in-four physicians favor a new federal policy that allows states to require Medicaid applicants to first prove they're working or looking for job, a new survey by Merritt Hawkins shows.

The single-question in the Dallas-based physician recruiter’s online survey asked 667 physicians what their position is on the new Medicaid work requirements policy. More than half (56%) said they feel very favorably about the policy, and 18% said they feel somewhat favorably.

Only 9% of physicians said they feel very unfavorably toward the policy and 8.4% said they feel somewhat unfavorably. The remaining 8% said they had no opinion either way.

"The survey strongly suggests that the majority of physicians would like to move away from the Medicaid status quo," said Travis Singleton, executive vice president of Merritt Hawkins.

"Many physicians have been frustrated for years because Medicaid often pays less than their costs of providing care," Singleton said. "Physicians have to limit the number of Medicaid patients they treat for that reason and want to focus on those who need care the most."     

Kentucky, Indiana and Arkansas are implementing work requirements in their Medicaid programs. In Kentucky, able-bodied Medicaid applicants 19-64 years old will be required to put in 80 hours of community engagement a month to qualify for Medicaid benefits, which includes working, going to school, training for a job, or volunteering. The policies in Indiana and Arkansas have similar requirements.

"It remains to be seen whether the policy can be carried out fairly and effectively, but in concept, it appears to have the endorsement of most physicians," Singleton said.

The survey was conducted by email in early March and was completed by 667 physicians and has a margin of error of less than 1%, Merritt Hawkins said.    

While the survey suggests overwhelming support for work requirements from physicians, elsewhere, the idea has proven to be controversial.

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.


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